A chat with Gardener Libby

Many people work to make the Hundred House a unique place to be. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be spending time getting to know them. I hope you’ll enjoy reading what I discover about  the people who make this such a special place to eat, and relax.

Dappled light highlights the blue and yellow planting scheme.

Dappled light highlights the blue and yellow planting scheme.

The gardens at the Hundred House are special. Thirty years of love and caring design have made a tranquil, beautiful environment. This same skilled design allows for productivity, which means we get to enjoy some of the freshest herbs and vegetables possible. It’s such a special space, you might imagine that their wonder is wrought through nothing but magic and dreaming.This is not so. A team of people work to sow, grow, snip and dig, with the goal of keeping our herb stocks full, and our gardens brimming with beauty.

To learn more about it all, I grabbed a coffee with our gardener Libby, to find out how she came to be part of the Hundred House, and what she loves about her role in the garden.

Persuading Libby to have her photograph taken was a challenge! She agreed, if I allowed the Lilies to take centre stage.

Persuading Libby to have her photograph taken was a challenge! She agreed,  but only if I allowed the Lilies to take centre stage.

HH How did you start working for the Hundred House?

Gardener Libby  I started thirty-one years ago. I was employed to help Sylvia, and did everything, from cleaning, to sanding down the tables for the bar. I remember my very first job was having to get all the salt rings from the woodwork on the bar tables!

HH Nowadays, you spend most of your time in the gardens. What sparked this interest?

Gardener Libby I love nature. I love all the things I see. I saw a black toad this morning! It is a special place, and I love to remember Sylvia whilst I’m working in the garden. My favourite place is the Herb Memorial Garden. At the right time of day, there is a certain slant of light through the trees, which I love. 

HH Do you prefer to be in the background?

Gardener Libby  Very much! I love doing the early morning clean, organising the housekeeping team, tending the garden and feeding Donk the donkey and Henry’s dogs.

HH How much has it changed ?

Gardener Libby I remember the Hundred House before the Phillips family came. It was like a working men’s club; cigarettes, beer, darts and dominoes. On Friday afternoons they used to set up a doctor’s surgery for the locals!

HH What is your favourite thing about the Hundred House ?

Gardener Libby My favourite thing is the picture that Sylvia made. It hangs in the bar, and is beautiful. 

Sylvia's picture will soon be joined by work from other local artists.

Sylvia’s picture will soon be joined by work from other local artists, for you to enjoy on your next visit.

It’s fair to say the Hundred House has changed a lot since those days. The loveliest thing about talking to Libby is the obvious love she has for her job, the Phillips family, and the magical gardens. I’m looking forward to getting regular updates from her about the day to day changes, and seeing what she thinks about our new eating space The Garden Room.

I’ll leave the last words to Libby, in the form of a poem she wrote for the time capsule we created when we restored the barn.

A poem to make you smile by Gardener Libby

I am a little Ray of sunshine

Getting all the weeds

Keeping people happy

Tending to their needs

 

I love the early mornings

When I have to clean

Listening to the songbirds

Whilst doing the latrines

 

 

Winters very different

Oh that dam alarm

Dark and creepy, eerie noises

Power don’t go off

Log fires burning

Empty ashes, careful their still hot!

 

I polish, sweep, hoover, dust

I love to scrub the yard,

First impressions are a must so scrub Libby very hard!

 

Into the Donkey stable I go

Sunshine, freezing, hail or snow

Toast for breakfast, hay and straw

Where’s the nuts? Just a little more

 

Take out the muck, sweep them clean

And spray for fleas, they’re real mean

 

Pick the herbs, fresh and quick

Before they drop and look real sick

Rosemary’s good, not into the wood, bay lasts long time

Some fever few flowers Anise, Mint and Thyme,

Stand back and look, yes, they are fine

 

Check on the girls, beavering about no time to chat just give them a shout.

Check they’re ok, no moans or groans or worries

Now, hoover the office, empty the bin, mind the computer! That’s plugged in

 

Pick the beans, tomatoes, cucumbers

Feed the birds whilst summer slumbers

Fleece up all the tender flowers from cold, stormy winter showers

 

Blue cloths, oven cloths all mixed up

Sort them all out, yuk!

Over to Yew Tree to get them washed, then into the dryer, it never stops!

 

Just a few of my daily tasks, to keep me employed is all I ask.

 

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