Allotmentality at Wycliffe Park

Woodland walk at Wycliffe Park

With the launch of Audley Wycliffe Park’s allotments, we sat down with John Head Gardener at our Horsley’s Green retirement village.

Did you always want to work in the great outdoors?

Not at all, I started out as a drummer in the 80s based in Colchester, then moved to London as that’s where all musicians went to make it big! The band was called The Vibes. I went on to be in a few different bands over the years and in total had over 20 albums and even performed at the famous Maida Vale Studios. I then went on to hold various jobs and my own business working with the local councils.

Do you have any top tips to help our gardens flourish at this time of year?

Scattering grass cuttings around the base of vegetables and plants helps regulate the temperature – not too much though as this will have the opposite effect!

What have you been up to in the grounds at Wycliffe Park?

Nathan and I have been quite busy. We have seeded one of the large fields around the village with lots of different types to create a wildflower meadow. It will take about two years for the meadow to come to life but it will attract pollinating insects, other wildlife, and a great source for bees.

We have also officially opened the allotments for our owners to begin growing their own fruit and vegetables. There was a greenhouse built by the contractors and we created a bespoke shelving unit and worktable so owners can raise their plants from seedlings. 

What’s the benefit of starting the plants off in the greenhouse?

Sowing seeds in a warm environment helps the seedlings have the best chance of growing. They will then be replanted in the outside allotments to flourish.

What’s your next project?

Nathan and I have been working on a woodland trail for our owners, we have utilised as much as we can from natural materials we have come across when clearing and planning out the route. We are really excited about unveiling this to our owners, it’s been a long time in the making.

I am really passionate about teaching Nathan as much as I can about making sure we are safely using all the garden and maintenance equipment, it’s something I would really like to build on.