Sunday, 13 July 2014

Tour de France comes to Renishaw

Last weekend, Tour de France fever hit Yorkshire as the race passed commenced in the county for the first time.  Never ones to miss out, we played our part in the proceedings as a Belgian TV show, Vive le VĂ©lo used Renishaw Hall as the backdrop for their filming.  The crew made quite the focal point for our visitors - and staff -  as they set up their complicated looking equipment on the Middle Lawn behind the house.


The crew set up on the Middle Lawn.
 

It all made for an exciting afternoon, although we do think that Renishaw probably stole the show!

That isn't all that has been happening here, as we gear up for the second of our Fair Weekends. The Food and Craft fair on the 9th August is coming together nicely with a lovely selection of stalls offering everything from cakes, gourmet marshmallows and raw chocolate to wood turned products, paper crafts and shabby chic gifts, to name a few!  The Specialist Plant Fair on Sunday 10th is also set to be as popular as ever.  We will also host a Strawberry Tea event to raise money for Breast Cancer Care on Thursday 31st July between 2pm and 4pm which should be a fun afternoon, with much planned to entertain visitors of all ages. 

Don't forget to 'follow' us on Twitter or 'like' us on Facebook to keep up to date with all of our events. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Behind the Scenes with David Kesteven

'How many gardeners are there?' is one of the most frequently asked questions from visitors.  Our reply of 'four' is met with open-mouthed astonishment.  Here, we talk to Head Gardener, David Kesteven, to find out exactly what goes into managing gardens as expansive as the ones here at Renishaw and to discover some of the behind-the-scenes secrets.

What does your role as Head Gardener at Renishaw involve?

Coordinating people and plants; making sure everyone knows what they're doing and has what they need and that all plants are in the right place and have what they need.  I work on implementing Alexandra's plans for the garden making sure everything looks as fantastic as possible for the visitors.

What is the thing you are most proud of in the garden?

The standards of maintenance; Lady Sitwell always says, "We must have our standards".  Also, straightening up the pyramids, Dave and Paul's [Renishaw gardeners] hedges and the planting in the borders.

David, hard at work in the gardens.


What are your plans for the future of Renishaw gardens?

To keep improving the planting; breeding our own Magnolias and taming the woods all the way down to the lakes .

Do you have a favourite season?

My favourite month is May and my favourite seasons are Spring and Summer.

What are the highlights of each Season?

Winter:  snowdrops and hedges.
Spring: Daffodils, Magnolias, Bluebells
Summer:  Roses, delphiniums, borders
Autumn: Bottom terrace, dahlia.

David and the Delphiniums, which are out right now.

Finally, have you any anecdotes you would like to share?

One TV company asked me the worst thing about visitors.  I said that they had been breaking the heads off the opium poppies and afterwards they bleed and look terrible - the poppies, that is - I added, but they edited that bit out.

Enjoy David's hard work; the gardens are open 10.30am until 4.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday until the end of September.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

It has been an incredibly busy start to the 2014 Season.  It's difficult to believe that we're already almost two months in - where has the time gone? A welcome addition this year, is our new visitor centre which has been a hit with visitors and staff alike.  As well as your tickets, you can also purchase Renishaw Hall wine, Sheffield Honey Company honey and we have just begun to stock greetings cards from The Great British Card Company along with the usual Renishaw Hall souvenirs.



Since our opening weekend, we have been kept busy with the first of our Food and Craft Fairs and Specialist plant fairs.  Even though the weather was typically British with lots of rain, we still attracted plenty of visitors.  We've also enjoyed the first of our Vineyard tours and tasting sessions with our vineyard manager Kieron Atkinson, offering the opportunity to learn about the Renishaw Hall vineyard and sample the award winning wine.  It's also been nice to open the doors of the Hall to our Public Tours (every Friday at 1pm and 2.30pm; plus weekends in August).

As always, the garden has been ever changing.  We have already welcomed a host of daffodils in time for Mothers Day, the bluebells which made an appearance for Easter, the Pocket Handkerchief and currently the Laburnum Tunnel.  Of course, there is much more to look forward to, with the garden never looking the same twice.



We have so much more to look forward to during the remainder of this Season.  We are busy with plans for the second of our Food, Craft and Plant Fair weekends, which is due to take place on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August.  On June 11th, we host the annual Classic car and bike show in the grounds, which is always popular.  Beginning on June 11th and dotted throughout the season are the WWI talks, hosted by our archivist Christine Beevers, which  focus on the Sitwell family living through the war.  The Sitwell museum has also undergone something of an overhaul, with new exhibits concentrating on Edith Sitwell to mark 50 years since her death.

To keep up to date with the latest Renishaw Hall news; follow us on Twitter, 'like' us on Facebook and subscribe to our e-newsletter via our website.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The out of season job list!

A damp and drizzly day but through the office window I can see the gardeners are hard at work. Some jobs have to wait till the season is closed so we don't cause any disruption to people's visits and we keep them safe on site. So the chain saw buzzed into life this morning and David started working on the lower branches of several trees that overhang the driveway. It's amazing what a difference it has made when driving into the estate and looking out I can see the trees changing colour down the drive.

The season closed here at Renishaw last weekend and we couldn't have wished for a better week to finish on. The sun shone on us as we welcomed guests for Macmillian coffee morning held in the hall. After much coffee and cake was consumed  we raised a grand total of £324.10 for Macmillian. A big thank you to all the volunteers and guides who helped out on the day.



Friday, 20 September 2013

Autumn morning at Renishaw Hall

September mornings in the gardens can be beautiful and today certainly was. As I wandered around taking photos trying to capture the moment I only wish you could capture the sparkling dew on the lawns, the fresh crisp autumn air and the sounds as the garden comes to life for the day!

It's the second to last tours of the season today and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays on our side.

I never know what the day is going to bring when I arrive here in the morning. On Wednesday I enjoyed an unexpected walk to the end of the drive to help a nervous coach driver ( driving a very shiny new coach) turn into the drive and bring his party safely to the hall. We were also able to help a couple who were on holiday in the area and hadn't realised the hall wasn't open except on  Fridays tours. The NHS Retirement Fellowship very kindly agreed to let the couple join their private tour.

Later this afternoon I will be visiting Eckington church where Eckington Heritage Day is being set up. With the help of the archivist I have a display about Renishaw Hall to add to the event.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Blooming borders

Blooming Borders
 As we head into September I am looking back at the summer months and wondering where they diasappeared to. Since joining the team in June as the administrator here it has been a hectic but enjoyable few months.

I have met many of our lovely visitors this season and enjoyed welcoming them to Renishaw Hall and Gardens. I have walked round and photographed the gardens often catching up with David Kesteven to learn a little more about the gardens. His knowledge is extensive and I often find him sharing plant names and tips with the visitors.

One of my favourite things has been learning about Alexandra's family home. Working with the guides and volunteers who can tell you all sorts of stories about Renishaw Hall though some should be taken with a pinch of salt!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Renishaw Under The Spotlight


Well now, where did the first two months of the season go? It’s hard to believe just how quickly those weeks have passed. And yet at the same time it feels like many years ago since we opened the gates at the start of the season.























Our season began under the spotlight literally as Renishaw Hall and gardens were filmed for ITV’s Country House Sunday. A team of television producers, researchers, script writers and presenters arrived en masse complete with numerous bags, boxes, camera equipment and miles of wiring as they captured life at Renishaw on film.


We had an amazing time during filming, managing to juggle sneaky moments watching the editing process whilst also preparing the museum exhibition and gardens for the arrival of visitors. 
It was quite a challenge but one that we relished. After the quieter winter months when the place was closed to the public, it was great to see so many people back in the Hall and welcome visitors back to the gardens again.

And after that the place became a flurry of activity, which so far hasn’t stopped. We’ve had our spring food & craft fair with vineyard tours and food tasting which brought people up to Renishaw in their droves. The following day hundreds flocked to the famed plant fair. We’re now busy preparing for the Classic Car Rally, which takes place on Wednesday 12th June. It never stops….

To get a taste of life at Renishaw Hall then check out the latest episode of ITV’s Country House Sunday this Sunday (26th May) at 8.30am (or ITV+1 at 9.30am).