Friday, 12 July 2013


Today amongst other work I was asked to have a go at growing Lettuce in the Hydroponicum at Houghton, something I have never done before. There is a large table which is filled with water and feed and air is continuously pumped into it. A board is placed on top with holes cut into it. Into these holes go small pots of perlite with a seed on top covered with clay granules (which stop the wet perlite from growing algae).

The little pots are placed into the holes and sit atop the water and hey presto in a week or two we should have lettuce. Great fun!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Box and heat

Week three at Houghton Lodge and it has been very hot in the garden. I have been trimming Box hedging in the 'Peacock garden' and learnt how to cut Box spirals for the first time.

I have also been pruning Roses and Apple trees amongst many other jobs. Work is very varied and there is plenty of it to keep us busy! The Forget-Me-Not seeds that were sown at the start of my placement are peeking through under the mist unit and the plants I put out are still with us so I am pretty pleased with that! Despite the heat and dry soil.

I love tidying up the ground and making it look good, it really is satisfying when you step back and the garden looks good. More to come......

WRAGS Training at Houghton Lodge

Hello and welcome to my new blog.

Having just completed an RHS course in Practical Horticulture, Level 2 at Lackham College, I am beginning a WRAGS traineeship at Houghton Lodge in Stockbridge. The Women's Farm and Garden Association offers a training scheme to anyone interested in a career in gardening. The scheme known as Women Returners to Amenity Gardening Scheme (WRAGS) requires the trainee to cover 15 hours a week at a large garden under the guidance of the Head Gardener.

I am lucky to have been placed at Houghton Lodge under the guidance of Andrew Bentley and will be completing 15 hours a week over 12 months. This will allow me to work in one garden throughout the seasons and learn what happens at each stage of the year.

The end of my second week and so far we have covered lots of aspects of gardening, planting out, seed sowing, cutting box hedging, using a hedge trimmer, planning a small veg plot along with the never ending task for a gardener, weeding!

Houghton Lodge is a beautiful tranquil place with the River Test running through it. Whatever we are doing in the garden it is a fantastic place to be and I am really looking forward to spending time there. This blog is intended as a diary for me whilst training but I hope it is of interest to others who may be starting out in gardening or thinking about training under the WRAGS scheme.