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About us


Welcome to the Vyne’s garden web blog.

The gardening team is lead by Head Gardener Nick Lightfoot who has guided developments within The Vyne’s grounds for over 8 years and is supported by a small team of garden staff, rangers, volunteer gardeners and garden guides.

Our aim here is to explain what we do to help develop and conserve the Vyne’s flora and fauna for the enjoyment of all our visitors now and for the future. The whole team has years of experience and knowledge between them, accumulated from a variety of career backgrounds. This we hope to share with you to enable you to get the most enjoyment from our gardens, woodlands and water habitats and perhaps your own, should you have the urge to exercise and develop green fingers.

The primary focus for our blog will be:

  • News and seasonal interest.
  • Green gardening.
  • Garden history.
  • Conservation projects
  • Bees.
  • Trails.
  • Wildlife stories.

We would also be very interested to hear your views and comments on topics you would like us cover so that we can develop this site further. You are also invited to comment on any posts from the gardening team and of course ask questions. At the end of the day this site is for you as much as it is a place for the outdoors team to document and share their insights and knowledge. Here we will bring you news, articles and stories about the development and conservation of the wonderful gardens and the varied wildlife that inhabits the Vyne estate.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy our stories.

If you would like to get involved with the National Trust as a volunteer why not visit our Facebook page

Primary contributors:

Nick Lightfoot (Head gardener)

I’ve worked for the National Trust for almost seven years managing the gardens at The Vyne. Of course I am supported by a great team of garden staff and volunteers and many people from the other departments on the property.

I have been involved in a number of projects, including building the Glasshouse, working with our partners Thrive, building up the team of Garden Guides and setting up a new soft fruit area in the Walled Garden. We have also started keeping chickens and soon hope to have bee hives in the Orchard.

My main interests include garden history and understanding the relationships of plants (I find it fascinating to learn, for example, that the Robinia trees lined up in front of the Chapel are closely related to the peas growing in the Walled Garden!). I also love growing fruit and veg – but don’t most of us?

I particularly love getting involved with the local community on behalf of the National Trust, working with my team to develop the gardens here at The Vyne for future generations to enjoy while educating the public to help them enjoy and appreciate what we do to restore and renovate these special places.

I’m really proud to have been one of the long line of Head Gardeners at The Vyne, conserving the gardens for the future but also helping them evolve.

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Chris Wilson (Gardener)

Chris Wilson

I’m in my 11th year working for the National Trust, 8 of which have been at The Vyne. The West garden herbaceous border has been my primary project, the aim being to return it to the plan created by Graham Stuart Thomas from around 1960.

In 2010/11 my previous experience of chicken keeping and fence building have been fully employed developing the Walled garden area and Bee enclosure in our orchard ready to receive honey bees.

I am known to get excited by all aspects of compost and composting and the science that surrounds it. I am forever inspired by how much I can learn from colleagues, volunteers and visitors. Some days you learn a new plant name or a fact from the other side of the world.

My interests both in and out of work involve the great outdoors and for me it is special privilege to work for an organisation that looks after and shares these interests. This year I have grown my own salad produce, eating healthily which has attracted the usual rabbit food puns from my learned colleagues.

Ultimately I’m really proud to be a part of the team that looks after the Vyne for everybody’s enjoyment.

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Geoff Smith (Volunteer gardener/Visitor experience services and media editor)

I initially joined the National Trust as a fundraiser then rapidly become involved in other areas of the charities work. In 2011/12 this has included support for the restoration of an 18th century maze at Cliveden in Berkshire, creating new web sites for The Vyne, The Chase nature reserve and this very web/blog. I have also been proud to have been involved in on going work to improve the West garden here at the Vyne for you, our visitors to enjoy. The Vyne has over time become a special place for me, not least because of the people behind the scenes that make it so.

My background is in project management/IT/Media/banking and people management & development. I have many interests not least history/heritage/gardening/photography and a long love affair with the lakes and mountains that are the Cumbrian national park.

James Meikle – (National Trust member and wildlife amateur photographer )

James Meikle

James Meikle

My wife and I moved to Hampshire about 18 months ago to be closer to family. Prior to that I worked for the NHS in Nottingham for over 40 years.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by birds. After I fell out of love with golf, birdwatching became my main leisure activity.  I was never a ‘twitcher’ though; this term is reserved for birdwatchers whose interest is in seeking out rare birds. With retirement looming I realised that I would need new pastimes and so I decided to take up bird photography. The Vyne has become part of my patch not least because of the variety of species to be seen within the varied habitats that make up the estate.

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Some of our dedicated gardening team – head gardner Nick Lightfoot – front left

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Julia permalink
    May 20, 2012 9:19 am

    I would like to know how the large hazel (?) arches in the walled garden are made, or where you can get arches like them.

    • Nick Lightfoot permalink*
      May 23, 2012 7:38 am

      Hi
      We had our arches made by a willow waeving artist named Tim Johnson on the Isle of Wight. You might be able to google his name or otherwise email The Vyne (see our web page) and we’ll email you some contact details
      Nick

  2. Betty Pointer permalink
    June 23, 2013 9:55 am

    I would be glad to know the name of the wonderful rose on the wall in the herb garden – the wall behind the bed with the angelica in. I thought I had correctly identified it but now realise I was wrong. Can you help please?

    • June 24, 2013 5:51 pm

      Hi Betty,
      The rose in question is Madame Alfred Carriere AGM an old fashioned climbing rose with gloriously scented double blooms. If you happen to visit our gardens I hope you get a chance to experience the perfumed flowers for yourself before they are past their best.

      • Betty Pointer permalink
        June 25, 2013 9:23 am

        Thank you Geoff – to my surprise that was my guess but I convinced myself I was wrong when I got home. I have 3 myself already and I was going on the scent principally – my climbers have paler leaves but I suppose it could be soil which makes them appear paler. Mind you, you clever chaps probably feed yours more than I do!! Thank you again. You’ve put my mind at rest.

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