Our trustee Marion Mako writes:
2018 has been an incredible year for the Painswick Rococo Garden Trust. Visitor numbers totalled 46,907, up 27% on 2017 and 30% on budget.
As well as the annual display of over five million snowdrops, visitors came to enjoy a huge range of sights and entertainments in the garden. January 2018 saw the unveiling of a new children’s play area in the newly-named Hidden Hollow with a wooden playhouse called the PanPipe, along with adventure equipment made by our talented gardeners from trees felled in the woodland. Many people learned new skills and took home a fruit tree on an apple grafting workshop.
In the spring, we completed the restoration of the Exedra garden. The Exedra itself was repainted in its correct historic off-white matt colour. New posts and edging boards were installed and the beds were cleared and fully replanted with a really colourful display of flowers better reflecting the eighteenth century origins of the garden. By the Bothy a new Auricula theatre also echoed the eighteenth century mania for collecting.
During the summer many people took part in yoga on the Bowling Green. Summer evenings lent themselves well to picnics and theatre with hundreds of visitors enjoying a choice of four different plays performed by Gloucestershire Youth Players and The Handlebards. The highlight for staff and volunteers was a party to commemorate twenty years of the maze with a re-dedication by Johnny Ball who originally opened it in 1998.
The autumn season saw apple juicing sessions fully booked and a very successful Autumn Festival weekend with many activities and tastings enjoyed by 693 visitors, up 112% on 2017. The end of the season was marked by a community carol concert in St. Mary’s Church, Painswick, hosted by the Friends group which raised £550.
Throughout the year, children and their families experienced a number of different trails around the garden including: Mini-beasts; A Royal Wedding trail; The Garden of Lost Things trail; Roctober and Tremendous Trees, all of which incorporated learning with an element of healthy outdoor fun. 14 couples tied the knot in the Garden and we have welcomed many different specialist groups for visits and private tours.
At the centre of all this activity is the Garden itself, which has been maintained to a high standard providing a huge variety of fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs for sale on the cart by the Café, as well being incorporated into cakes, bakes and soups in the café. Fresh vegetables have also been supplied to a local bistro. As always, working towards restoring the gardens to the 1748 Thomas Robins painting other renovation work included: clearing and lifting the canopy of the Red House borders to create an eighteenth century shrubbery walk; refurbishment of the Chinese gates; the introduction of ducks and chickens into the garden, preparation work for a new vineyard; replacement of leaking pipes and planting over 30,000 spring bulbs.
To support the Garden team in this work, a new WRAGS trainee was taken on in March and volunteer groups from the Aston Project and employer charity work schemes have enhanced the growing band of regular Garden volunteers. Overall, 70 volunteers now regularly support the charity, helping with a wide range of tasks.
Behind the scenes, staff and Trustees have been working on re-branding and two new guidebooks as well as plans for a new visitor centre for 2022. The Friends of Painswick Rococo Garden charity has now merged with Garden Trust charity to support the delivery of this next exciting phase of our stunning Garden's development.
8 January 2019