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

Thank you David

Our Head Gardener David Standing is retiring from the garden after first coming here in 1979! He will be sorely missed by the staff and volunteers of the museum and garden past and present and all our visitors for his astounding work in making Gilbert’s Garden the beautiful place it is, for his amazing knowledge on gardening and his expertise on Gilbert White, but most of all for his humour and enthusiasm!

So Thank you David!

thank you david

Here are some well wishes from staff and volunteers past and present from David’s last garden newsletter and an extract from the very first newsletter from June 1983.

A well wisher and great lover of the garden over many years- what a treat to wonder around & pick flowers for the house (I know you kept a watchful eye!) Thank You for all your help and numerous answers to customer questions!
Marel  (Long serving member of Staff at the Museum) 

As one of the three original Wakes Weeders, I always remember the trepidation that I felt when I went the first time to help in the garden. I’d been invited to go by two old friends, who knew all about Gilbert White and had been to one of David Standing’s Cottage Garden talks. I’m afraid I had never heard of Gilbert White, as I came from Argentina and didn’t have an English education. I soon learned!
Since I love gardening, I was hooked, and have enjoyed all these years meeting on Sundays and learning all sorts of interesting things about 18th Century gardening, and getting to know an interesting variety of Weeders whom I hope to meet up with from time to time. David’s constant enthusiasm for the garden has been wonderful, and has kept us all eager to help all this time.
The first Sunday of the month will never be the same after 33 years!

Vivien (Long serving Garden volunteer) 

thank you david

Memory of Selborne – Karen Bridgman (Assistant Garden Manager/ Assistant Administrator 1997 – 2004)

When David asked if I would contribute a few lines for his last ever Weeders’ Newsletter, it was difficult to decide what to write as I have so many happy memories of the place and the people. The memory I’d like to share is that of Prince Charles’ visit on the 10th of July 2002.
The purpose of the visit was to officially open the New Field Studies Centre in the meadow behind the public car park. The Old Field Studies Centre, in the stable yard, had been deemed unfit for purpose, although not totally condemned – it became the new home for the garden staff and volunteers. This was a big change for the garden team – our previous ‘home’ had been in the cellar under the back kitchen in the main house. This was accessed by a spiral staircase – not easy to negotiate carrying large sacks of compost or trays of seedling plants, as we also used it as a potting shed. It also used to flood and I’m sure I can remember the occasional frog making itself at home in one of the damper corners.
As well as his official duty, HRH was to have a private visit beforehand to the House and garden, so everywhere had to be looking its best, inside and out. As I recall, there wasn’t a huge amount of notice, a matter of a few weeks, and after the initial shock it dawned rather rapidly on David and I what a huge amount we had to do in the garden. As ever, the Weeders stepped up to the challenge and by the day before the visit the garden looked at its very best, mown, clipped, staked, trimmed and weeded ready for the scrutiny of the Prince who also happened to be a knowledgeable gardener.
With the visit planned for the early afternoon, we had set aside the morning for last minute tweaking and checking, but then the rain started, heavy and relentless. The area around the New FSC where the official events were to happen turned rapidly into a quagmire consisting of the kind of Hampshire mud that sticks to your boots in lumps the size of dinner plates and makes walking challenging, if not impossible. Clearly, something had to be done, and again the Weeders were on hand to save the day, spreading hay and straw around the barn to give a surface that could be walked on, at least for a while…
HRH came by car, and by the time he arrived, the rain had stopped, the sun had broken through and it turned into a beautiful summer’s day. David and I took him on a private tour of the gardens, discussing topics such as the Wine Jar on the pedestal in the Six Quarters and how to deal with bindweed. We had been told to follow a strict timetable along a predetermined route, and that if we appeared to be too slow or deviating from the plan, one of the Equerries would discreetly let us know. But the Prince, as a keen gardener, took his time, looked at whatever caught his eye and asked lots of questions. The twenty minutes we were allocated flew by, but we were only a little behind schedule as we concluded the tour at the top of Baker’s Hill. David and I had prepared a basket plants from the plant sales area as a gift, and these were handed to one of the Prince’s staff to put on the helicopter, which was waiting in the meadow to take HRH away at the end of his visit. For many months afterwards, we would joke that David’s plants were by Royal Appointment!

Karen Bridgman (Freelance Historic Planting Advisor)

thank you david

I first visited Gilbert White’s Garden more than 30 years ago and met a very erudite and enthusiastic young man whose passion for this garden was an inspiration. Later, when my daughter started school and; on the advice of my late mother in law; I became a volunteer, I soon began to share that passion. At that time the only other weekday volunteers were Betty, Laurie and Jim and our lunchtime conversations touched on philosophy, botany, art, drama,18C garden history and whether the only good badger was a dead badger (Jim!). What I remember most is how much we laughed, even at David’s dreadful puns and we were laughing so much we almost forgot the sheer impossibility of keeping up with a garden of this size with a minimal amount of paid labour.
Luckily, the particular qualities Gilbert’s “green retreat” do not require the intensive levels of management dictated by more formal gardens; White began as a gardener and ended as a naturalist and gardening too tidily can be detrimental to the wildlife that so fascinated him. David has always understood this important principal and has managed the garden in a way that “allows the wild ingress” (as we told the RHS); he has tirelessly researched the layout of White’s original garden and been instrumental in the formulation of the Kim Wilkie design. His Herculean labours in the melonry in particular, have bridged the gap between gardening and experimental archaeology. I hope very much that his intention to write a PHD will ensure his lasting connection with the place that has always been his inspiration and that he will continue to bring groups of visitors here to share in the infectious enthusiasm he has for his subject.
And then there’s Pickle…

Rose (Garden Manager) 

Aaagh,The Wakes. A magical place that entranced all who came into its presence and fell under the spell of the Wakes. Certainly it applied to me and I spent many happy years working part time in the gardens; mostly behind a lawnmower or on a tractor cutting grass. I was actually on a tractor when I heard about the Twin Towers attack. John Humphries (Radio 4) was in the tea rooms at the same time! When I go back now memories flood back. There is barely a square yard that does not remind me of some event. The erection of Hercules (can you print that?), the wooden ha-ha, the Monet bridge, Greek urns,
wine pipe, planting hedges, gates, cutting beds, vegetable gardens, hot beds and on and on. It was a wonderful place to work; although it never seemed like work. I met some marvellous people, all striving to do their best for The Wakes. Amongst them were some real characters. Most important of all was they all had a great sense of humour. I laughed a lot, that was the magic of the place. It was all SUCH GOOD FUN! I’m sure David has very mixed feelings about retiring and leaving the Wakes. He was always a good friend, full of enthusiasm, optimism and with a wicked sense of humour. Terrible puns! I will miss his newsletters, a wonderful account and record over many years. I don’t think describing him as a Wakes Legend is any more than he deserves. David, I wish you a long and happy retirement and thanks for the memories.

Gerry Cordingley

thank you david

The sense of smell is amazing: it carries me back to a special time and place.
My special memory is the unique smell of the Wakes classroom; the musty, not-quite-sure-if-something-is-rotting-in-the-corner-smell. I smelled it the other day while clearing out some old pots in my greenhouse. It took me back instantly to the Wakes: those hours spent on knees or up trees, but most of all the laughs and fun we had and the friendships we made.
Although I haven’t been a Weeder for many years now, that memory will last forever.

Amanda Whittaker

I very much enjoy the camaraderie and chat that happens when the Sunday weeders get together.I love working in such an historic and beautiful garden and have definitely benefited from your enthusiasm and knowledge.I really hope the Sundays continues for many years to come. I wish you all the best for the future and hope to see you occasionally at the Wakes.

Rebecca Dowling

thank you david

Edited Extracts from newsletter no1, June 1983

Welcome to this, the first edition of our newsletter. I hope your enthusiasm for gardening in general, and Gilbert White’s Garden in particular, is not waning, in this the wettest spring on record…. I have included in the newsletter a summary of my account of the layout of Gilbert white’s garden… and contributions for future newsletters will be gratefully received…..We need your enthusiasm to make Wakes Weeders a success! {NB turned out far more successful than I ever imagined!! David}

If you’d like to say Thank you David, we can pass the message on, or if you’d like to donate any money towards thanking David in the garden; please let us know.