The state of the vinery overwhelms me a little. The aerial picture below tells you something about the condition: narrow timber glazing bars, which the Victorian’s delighted in, giving increased light to the interior, now rotten and barely supporting superfine panes of glass within them. Two balance above my head, resting on air.
The interior is crammed with forty years of someone else’s detritus. Amongst the chaos I have found quite a nice child’s trike, a rustic terracotta flowerpot and to my total delight, whilst looking around with James last week, the ‘Doulton’ ceramic bowl which was once at the centre of the kitchen garden (see ‘The Old Gate Pier’). It is nearly a meter tall and he remembers it buried to its handles and filled with soil. I suspect the soil came later and originally it was a deep dunking bowl for the speedy watering of plants at the centre of the garden.
The Isle of Wight College came to see Alasdair and I a few weeks ago, as we thought we might take an apprentice in the garden. The horticultural tutor, Rob, once a village resident, remembers the garden open 25 or so years ago and this vinery filled with white jasmine and white hyacinths and the air thick with scent. It is this jasmine that now pushes through the broken panes above, in rude health, getting the water it needs from the incoming rain. Not in such rude health, the asparagus ferns, citrus and huge Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise plant), brought back from a family holiday by Mrs Bacon, which I gather has never flowered. The soil is dust dry in the raised beds.
The vines are the greatest worry, the main stems thick with age but at the moment showing little signs of life, or healthy buds. According to correct practice, they are planted outside the vinery, brought inside through a small break in the wall, and then trained across the whole roof space. I hope we can save them.
So my plan in here, other than sitting amongst the rather fabulous disorder , in very low wind of course, is to fill a huge skip with debris so we can better tend the plants and explore the vaulted boiler houses beneath the vinery, the floors of which are semi submerged in clay. Then, with judicious pruning, feeding and watering, I will shut the door, plaster it with a ‘keep out, falling glass’ sign and address the nutty problem of the right contractor to restore it.