In the heart of the ‘Garden of England’, the grounds of Leeds Castle offer so many glorious walks and gardens to explore – from the beautifully planted Culpeper Garden and Mediterranean Terrace, to the winding woodland walk. But have you ever wondered who helps keep these gardens so well-maintained and in tip-top condition throughout the seasons?
We go behind the scenes with Head Gardener Andrew McCoryn to discover the year-round joys involved in caring for the Leeds Castle gardens and what to expect from the estate in 2019.
How long have you been at Leeds Castle?
I’ve been here six years now.
How many of you are in the gardening team?
We have four full time gardeners, one who is part time and a number of volunteers.
What does a typical day at work look like to you?
Apart from the management elements of my job, my work pattern is essentially governed by the weather and the seasons. The winter months are more about working together as a team, achieving projects, undergoing tree work and pruning. We spend the summer months working individually in different areas of the gardens, achieving high standards through weeding, dead heading and working on the little details that our visitors expect and love to see.
What’s the best thing about working at Leeds Castle?
I love the freedom and support we have to be creative here, and the expectancy to keep enhancing the gardens for the pleasure of our visitors.
You work on such a large estate – do you have a favourite garden or spot you most enjoy spending time in?
Definitely in the river amongst the tree ferns of the Mill Garden, where I often see Kingfishers flying past me. However the joy I gain from our gardens has to be the collussus scale and variety of areas we have here in general, as well as the many interesting plant types; from unusual cacti and tree ferns to the hundreds of roses.
What should visitors look out for in 2019?
The unveiling of the new woodland gardens project. But there will also be thousands of little improvements across the whole estate, since all the gardens will have new plants and be given a little extra love for this big 900 anniversary year.
Your favourite season at Leeds Castle and why?
Well, summer is lovely of course, with it often being warm (I love spending time on the beach especially in Cornwall, where I am from!) but as a Leeds Castle gardener – it has to be Autumn. It is such a colourful season when all of the leaves turn, the beds and borders are still full of flowers, and our exotic plants are at their happiest. Traditionally, autumn is the start of the ‘Gardeners New Year’, when new ideas and thoughts are planned for the next year.