Most of the students arrived on Saturday morning. We had a coffee and intro to the garden, led by Rachael.
Rachael leading the group through the Barn Garden
Rachael and Ed did most of the planning and organizing for the weekend, and Maria, Yuko, Yuichi and I also coordinated group tasks that Fergus delegated. Tasks included: digging over and composting the Exotic Garden, weeding and tidying the Barn Garden and the Upper Terrace, potting up plants in the nursery, and gathering pea sticks from Dixter Wood. Fergus was very generous to give up most of his weekend to oversee the different garden jobs and spend time with the students.
Thankfully the weather was perfect all weekend! We were able to get quite a bit accomplished, while enjoying the garden and each other's company.
Aaron kindly prepared wonderful meals (including the largest loaf of bread I've ever seen!) for the group and made sure we didn't wreck the house, which we ate and slept in. After work Saturday, Fergus gave a short talk with slides. Then we all gathered for dinner in the Great Hall, and spent the evening talking, with a nice fire going in the fireplace.
Sunday was a bit slower and more relaxed, which was nice, but we still took the tractor down to Dixter Wood to collect pea sticks. We hauled up two trailer loads, some of which were bundled for sale and others were piled up for our own use in the garden this year. Students were also given a brief demonstration on wood work outside the barn, including how to split and shave coppiced lengths. Then we had lunch on the front lawn since the weather was so nice. After lunch students did a bit of shopping in the nursery before heading off.
I think I can speak for most of (if not all) the people who attended the weekend when I say it was a special and exciting time. Yes, we were all tired after working a long week, but I think we were all energized by the exchange of experiences and ideas. I think it's so important to form these sorts of gatherings. We're often too busy competing and hoarding our ideas, but we have so much to learn from each other, and that's what this weekend was about. I hope all of us will continue to provide and promote these sorts of get-togethers in the future, wherever we are- I'm excited to see where this talented next generation of horticulturalists ends up!