Much loved horticulturist Cilla Platt is to leave her role as head gardener at Cregneash after nearly two decades.
Her dedication to heritage vegetables and replanting traditional Manx varieties has made a lasting legacy to the gardens of the much loved village. But it wasn’t always as well tended:
“When I began working Cummel Beg back in 1998, it was bit of jungle’, but with the help of volunteers Gill Wheeler, Belinda Crebbins and Jan Lowe one by one they reclaimed, replanted and restored each garden to former glory”.
“Not all of our projects were entirely successful. We dedicated ourselves to restoring hedgerows around the village, only for the oldest indigenous resident – Stanley Karran – to explain historically dry stone walls predominated, so we had to cut them all back down”.
Although little historical information about indigenous planting existed, the resident of Port St Mary, left no stone unturned in her quest to discover fruit, flowers and herbs that would likely have grown in Cregneash over the centuries, all of which she has documented for future generations. More recently willow varieties from cuttings of species found in the Abbey in Ballasalla, have been established in order to show visitors and volunteers traditional weaving methods. Cilla plans to spend her retirement keeping as busy as possible.
“I’m planting a couple of acres of trees on the Sloc, and my role as education officer for the National Beekeeping Federation is something I’m extremely passionate about.”
Her replacement Karen Griffiths, explained:
“Filling Cilla’s boots is going to be very difficult we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude. She’s an amazing and inspirational person whose dedication to the gardens of Cregneash has preserved a unique record for Manx horticulture”.
Karen went on to explain that she’s very excited about new plans to supply the chefs in Cregneash and the Sound Cafe with fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in the gardens.
Karen reiterated that the lifeblood of the gardens is the volunteers and anyone wishing to get involved should contact Karen on 412488 or Site Manager, Helen on 496590. Cregneash opens for the summer season on 1 April 2017.