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Cultural Gardener Diary - May 2019

A new monthly update from our new Cultural Gardener, Katy Merrington.

What a month! In May 2019 I moved to Wakefield to start a new role at The Hepworth Wakefield as ‘Cultural Gardener’ – to say it has gone by in a flash is an understatement. Before I even officially started, I attended a talk given by the designer of The Hepworth Wakefield’s Garden, Tom Stuart-Smith and quickly found myself introduced to the audience by Tom and fielding questions about the project. It was so heartening to hear so much enthusiasm for and genuine engagement with the project, albeit a little scary being thrown in the deep end!

This monthly diary will offer a little glimpse into my world as I start to introduce muddy boots and gardening tools into the beautiful world of art here at The Hepworth Wakefield.

An talk with Tom Stuart-Smith at The Hepworth Wakefield in April 2019.

It is really exciting to be employed at this stage in the project as not only will I get to work alongside Tom Stuart-Smith and his team as the plants go into the ground, but it also allows me time to plan and prepare everything I’ll need to run the garden and make sure it flourishes for years to come. I have been working closely with the landscape contractors on the soil preparation and familiarising myself with the garden’s layout, irrigation details and planting plans. Understanding the garden in this detail will be a huge benefit to me in the future.

The weather in May has been kind to the garden, with a healthy balance of sun and rain which has helped some of the very first trees and herbaceous perennials that have been planted settle into their new homes. We’ve also recently introduced some grasses in the ground. The papery ribbons of Hakonechloa macra are already looking lovely rustling in the breeze coming off the Calder and whilst it’s hard to believe right now, the currently small grassy specimens of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Ferner Osten’ will eventually grow to be over a metre high and have pinkish, red flower heads in late summer. If you would like to see the full list of the plants that will be in the garden, please click here.


Amongst various catch ups and meetings with Tom Stuart-Smith, I’ve also been investigating the tools and machinery that we will need for the garden. This includes hedge trimmers and mowers and it will be an exciting day when the first delivery of spades, forks and hoses arrive. We are still fundraising to generate the money needed for the project so if you are able to help us buy the equipment we need, pleased click here.

We also welcomed our first garden volunteers. They will help with the project by looking after the garden when it opens later in the summer.

Looking ahead, over the next few weeks the garden will be ready for its next phase of planting. Throughout June, you will see a true greening of the space as hundreds more herbaceous perennials arrive. Keep an eye out on our social media channels for further updates by following the #THWGrows or #THWGarden hashtags or sign up to our garden mailing list to hear all of our updates first.