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18 Local Places

arched doorway that leads you into Windlesham’s “secret” garden.

Finding myself in a surprisingly tranquil haven I thought of Burnett’s main character in The Secret Garden, 10 year old Mary Lennox. Discovering and entering the secret garden for the first time the author wrote of Mary, “Everything was strange and silent, and she seemed to be hundreds of miles away from anyone”. She liked “the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in, no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world”

That’s exactly how I felt in the walled garden. The walls provide a barrier against the blustery weather and that protection brought with it a sense of calm for me. The wind was no longer whirring around me on the South Downs but somehow kept outside of the garden. The sun shone on that cold Autumnal day and the hustle and bustle of normal life seemed to have been prevented from entering the garden. When I asked Andrew what his stress levels were like in his new role as Market Gardener he simply replied, “who could get stressed here?” Andrew describes his role as “a rare opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity” and says he wakes up every morning


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SHOWROOM & WORKSHOP AT: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm & Sat 9am-12.30pm Market Gardener, Andrew Norman. thinking in amazement “this can’t be happening”.

Andrew is responsible for the walled garden and his main focus includes planting and growing fruit, vegetables and flowers as well as nurturing the young minds of the children who tend to the land with him. Andrew doesn’t profess to be a teacher, he is a fruit farmer by profession, but he is fascinated working alongside both the teachers and the children. Sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge about the land is also proving very gratifying.

The newly formed Garden Club means the children spend Wednesday afternoons working in the garden. Garden Club members are not only encouraged to develop a passion for gardening but they are also learning about science as they work the land. Their first task was to put well rotted manure around the pear trees and to plant caliente mustard seed which is a green manure and biofumigant. The caliente mustard is chopped into the soil approximately six weeks before planting, in this case flowers, and serves to improve soil structure and suppress various soil- borne diseases and pests. The caliente mustard has grown at an astonishing rate and is testament to the nitrogen heavy soil in the garden following clearance of vast amounts of nettles and thistles that had grown wild. Flowers from this area of the garden should produce from March to September so the children, staff and visitors will enjoy stunning displays of fresh flowers in the school during that time of year.

Planting boxes in the garden will have glass walls so the children can see what goes on underground as well as above ground with samples of vegetables from the main part of the garden featuring in these boxes. I sense a worm project coming on! C

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