Our former gardener visited!
Published: 05 January 2022
A former gardener met the present one on a recent visit to Sharpham.
Ben Pike worked here from around 1999, planting the organic orchards and various trees and shrubs.
He now lives and works in Canada, but he returned to Britain and dropped in to see our current Head Gardener Bryony Middleton. And although a few things have changed since he was last working here, he approved of the present-day grounds.
"One of the things I learnt as a gardener is that you have to let go," he said. "Because there are so many gardens and trees I've planted and you go back later and they've changed...and got rid of this and that...things move on."
He added: "I really like the way she's replanted the Percy Cane garden. It's lovely. I replanted it when I was here because it was just a mess beforehand...gardens go through incarnations and I think this is a lovely new incarnation."
"One thing I really enjoy here is walking around and seeing trees that I've planted that are now getting quite big, just to see how they do in their different places."
Ben works in Edmonton as an indoor gardener for the Alberta government in what is the equivalent of that province's Houses of Parliament. Funnily enough, the Alberta premier Jason Kenney has chatted to Ben about his ancestors in Buckfastleigh (which Ben says he pronounces Booh-ckfastleigh!).
He was also recently presented to the state's Lieutenant Governor (the Queen's representative in Alberta). "I didn't know whether to bow or to curtsey!" said Ben.
His work has earned plaudits. A living wall he cared for in the government buildings won the best of its type in North America. Sadly, the government has since ripped it out to 'save money'.
Ben worked for Sharpham for about 12 years and was also a founding member of Orchard Link, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation run by and for orchard, apple and cider enthusiasts in South Devon.
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