I’m not sure how it’s happened, or where the time’s gone, but it’s suddenly mid-May and we’re into late spring!  My last blog was back in October, so I’ve got a lot to fill you in on.

My last blog noted that we had been collecting seeds from some of our much loved and regularly grown annuals.  These seeds, having been stored over winter are now sprouting into exciting and refreshing new growth and our polytunnel is a sea of seedlings at various stages of life.  in fact, some of them are big enough to start life in their permanent positions in the Kitchen Garden, with peas, spinach and chard planted out.  Here are the Wednesday volunteers planting out the peas after building the most superb looking pea supports out of both Bamboo and Hazel.

I also began the story of our 2022 apple harvest, and our plan to send 50% of our apples to a local cider maker.  I am overly pleased to report that our plan succeeded, and we now have bottles of Orchard Meadow Cider for sale in our on-site shop. The garden team had the difficult job of visiting the cider maker in Slad and tasting the raw cider, making decisions on the final taste, sweetness, colour and ABV.  It was a hard job, but someone had to do it! 

In the continued endeavor to make sure everything in the Garden is used and never wasted: we harvested our Medlars for the very first-time last November.  A curious delicacy popular in medieval times, and not widely grown nowadays, these have been made by Maryanne, our local jam-making extraordinaire, into a wonderful Medlar Jelly which is also available in our lovely shop.

In December we once again hosted the popular Rococo Garden Christmas Carol Concert at St Mary’s Church in Painswick.  The Garden volunteers did a fantastic job of the greenery to dress the venue, here they are with Team members Emma and Katie having a right good time…

The Welcome desk and Café area have seen several reincarnations since last September.  And in December came the day we planned to move our newly fitted out containers into their new home.  But of course, with it arrived some of the heaviest snow we’ve seen in a good long while. After some serious snow shifting in the car park, our amazing container lorry driver, Sandy, made it look easy and we watched in wonder as these huge and heavy new kitchen and storage containers were seamlessly placed in position.

On a side note, as with all snow there had to be a bit of sledging and we let off some steam on the Red House Vista slopes, which I can report, build up a fair bit of speed!

Of course, we’ve also completed another Snowdrop Season since my last Gardeners blog.  It’s our busiest time of the year, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, is very much weather dependent.  Fantastically, we were blessed with very little rain throughout the whole of February and our visitor numbers were at full capacity almost every day of the season. It was, as always, a wonderous display of white: our (5 million & counting) Snowdrops never cease to amaze our visitors.

With the end of this year’s Snowdrop Season, we also came to the end of our time with our newest member of the Garden Team: Katie Skinner.  We were gutted to lose Katie, but she’s bagged herself a fantastic, permanent, full-time position at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, so we had to say our goodbyes.  As a final ‘treat’ while cleaning out the Plunge Pool, Katie was allowed the exciting job of uncorking the inlet and as a leaving present, we had a group picture taken and printed onto a mug so she can see our faces every day in her new job – poor girl!

Since then, we have advertised, interviewed and succeeded in employing Greg Sztymiak, who joined us at the beginning of May.  One week in and so far, he has fitted in perfectly.  Welcome to the team Greg!

The Garden Team have also gained three new volunteers recently: Viv, Lydia and Howard have joined our ranks and our rabble of weekly volunteers and seem to have fitted in straight away.

One of the main jobs that we have been chipping away at over the winter months is manuring all our flower and vegetable beds.  Our neighbour Nick was able to source for us TONS of cow manure which we have been systematically working through, covering the beds with the help of our trusty volunteers.  It was a heavy, sticky and smelly job, but after a long slog of weeks, it is finally complete and we’re looking forward to reaping the results when the garden is in full bloom.

Another job we share with our band of volunteers is coppicing our collection of Hazel from around the garden.  We’ve been using it for creating gorgeous, natural plant supports in our herbaceous borders to support our Peony’s as well as some of our taller plants that are prone to collapse in high winds. It will also be used to make wigwams for climbers including Sweet Peas (Lathyrus oderatus) and Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea).

Over the winter Rococo was incredibly grateful to have a huge number of trees donated by The Painswick Conservation Group.  Our wonderful volunteers got busy planting them all, dotting them cosily around the bottom of our Hidden Hollow to replace trees lost to Ash Dieback.

Our annual apple tree grafting has been completed too. Each year, with our volunteers, we graft around 100 apple tree scions onto a variety of different root stocks. This involves sharp knives, plasters, practice and patience! The scions were pruned from our orchard of Heritage Apple trees.
Each root stock is named with a code which denotes the size of the fully grown tree. For instance, an M27 dwarfing root stock will only grow to about 2m tall and is ideal as a patio or a container tree but a M25, which is considered vigorous will grow to approximately 4m tall. The chosen scion denotes the apple variety that tree with bear.

In the Garden right now, this year’s daffodil display is very nearly through its bloom, the Exedra Garden is starting to fill with colour, with Pulmonaria, Tulips, Iris’s and bulging Alliums buds.  The daffs may be over but there’s plenty more to come!

If anything you’ve read here makes you want to get involved then please, please email Ineke on

We are always grateful for new volunteers to join us and get stuck in!  We accept volunteers from Tuesday – Thursday every week, with a start time of 9.30am. We are totally flexible, some of our volunteers start a little later, some only stay for the morning, and some are away on holiday 3 weeks out of 4 (you know who you are!) but we honestly don’t mind.  Any extra pairs of hands are welcome and we’ll feed you tea, cake and lunch to boot!

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