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My Life as a Gardener

(20 March 2008)

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On Thursday 20th March Martin Little came to talk to the SCG on “My Life as a Gardener". Martin’s talk was just that and traced his career and the people that he worked for. Some of the employers were quite fascinating and their was an insight to what money can buy. One place Martin worked the owners would hold parties and then give a basket of produce to their guests. The problem was that the lady of the house had a set of requirements as to the maximum size of the vegetables which was in fact very small, so they were very young and tender, the drawback of this was that a great deal of vegetables were required. So if there was to be a dinner for twenty four guests the kitchen garden was all but stripped.

Martin also worked for the Maidenhead Advertiser where he produced a gardening column and at Ockwells Manor, near Maidenhead, which is supposed to be the best example of a medieval building in the county. It survives almost completely intact from the original building erected in the mid fifteenth century.

The important thing with Ockwells Manor was to have a garden that blended with the old building. There was an old carp pond, the carp being originally used for the table. It was decided to convert this into a swimming pool, which blended beautifully with the old Manor. One interesting feature was a chess board with black and white gravel squares and topiary chess pieces. The problem Martin felt was that gardens tend to grow and change with the seasons, but this was not true of the chess board. It was very striking to see once and would have been fine in a garden that was open to the public all the time, but it was totally stagnant which made it rather uninteresting when seen over a period of time.

Photos of Ockwells Manor Garden

After fourteen years at Ockwells Manor Martin decided to branch out on his own, he and his wife both worked there so it was quite a brave move for them both to leave, particularly as they had their accommodation provided. Martin had felt that he was becoming something of an odd job man and not only was he running the garden but he was also acting as a taxi service to the airport plus a myriad of other tasks.  Martin said that after he left he did not want to go back and see the progress of the garden but recently he did and found it to be in a sorry state. He understands that the head gardener has now left and believes that it is being improved again.

He now works as a landscape gardener and showed several photos of before and after of projects that he had undertaken. The talk was enjoyed by everyone and finished up with a discussion on the effects of global warning. Martin felt that we were “doomed”.

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