Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10.30AM to 5PM & Bank Holidays

Becoming a Wakes Weeder?

Do you have a few hours to spare to help maintain Gilbert White’s 30 acres of beautiful 18th Century landscape garden?

Local garden enthusiasts are being encouraged to meet with the garden team at Gilbert White & The Oates Collections to find out more about Gilbert White’s very special garden. Deputy Head Gardener Rose Malyon will be giving a garden tour and explaining the many volunteers roles available in the garden on Wednesday 11th March and Wednesday 8th April between 10.30am and 12.30pm during the museum’s monthly Chocolate Biscuit Club.

The garden team is affectionately known as the Wakes Weeders after the original name of Gilbert White’s house. They have a naturalistic approach to planting, using many wild plants and only those introductions that would have been familiar in the Eighteenth Century. But the Wakes Weeders is more than that… Susan Knight, a recent Wakes Weeders recruit, explains:

‘I became a ‘Wakes Weeder’ (or volunteer gardener by any other name) in March last year, the coldest March in 50 year it was claimed. This did not deter the enthusiastic team at The Wakes from cleaning out the pond that day. Not even having but a single pair of waders between them dimmed their enthusiasm. And so, determined as a novice to prove my mettle, I plunged into freezing water armed with a breadknife to cut away hunks of a particularly invasive water weed bent on taking over the pond. Within half an hour I was so immersed in both water and the conversation around me that I quite failed to notice I had lost all feeling from the knees down.

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It certainly didn’t dawn on me that day just what being a ‘Weeder’ at a historic garden such as The Wakes might entail. Weeding is the least of it. There was the massive composting of the Six Quarters in the spring, the clearing of the herb garden beds (lovely, in the early summer sunshine, and a job everyone vies for), hoeing, clipping, pruning and the constant tidying up. In rain, in sunshine, in frost, in wind, and always in the wonderful company of the enthusiastic, somewhat quirky, endlessly interesting and occasionally maddening garden team. And then there are the tea breaks punctuated with Laurie’s wisdom and Pickle’s (official garden dog) attempts to steal biscuits… ‘

Gilbert White’s garden boasts 5 acres of garden and 25 acres of parkland and is lovingly cared for by its small team of staff and volunteers. The Wakes Weeders meet on Mondays and Fridays and on the first Sunday of every month and would love to see you at one of the Chocolate Biscuit Clubs.