Team QE2 has developed green fingers – Richard Davis, General Manager of Leiths at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre shares his stories of the fourth floor garden:
Up on the fourth floor of The QEII Conference Centre, facing the Poets’ meeting rooms are two garden courtyards about 4m x 2.5m. It’s a spot perfect for growing herbs and vegetables. In a previous life it was planted with ornamental plants but this year Team QE2 formed a garden party and occupied the plots.
The team, headed by me and Martin Litherland, QEII’s Event Operations Manager got together and planned our attack. We marked out plots and invited donations. Sue Etherington donated a couple of courgette plants nurtured in her greenhouse, whilst Martin created a nursery in his office to grow plants including tomatoes, lettuce and sunflowers.
The frost passed and we started planting – herbs on the South plot including thyme, lavender, oregano and sage and the vegetables and fruit on the North. A competition was set up for the tallest sunflower.
So why did we become all horticultural? It just seemed like an opportunity not to be missed; it has been great for team spirit, it’s something that we can shout about and be proud of, and (perhaps best of all) we get to eat some fine produce.
The raspberry bush, being already mature, was the first to bear fruit. And how sweet was the taste of success. Next to flourish were some lettuces but then we were attacked by hundreds of starving caterpillars – Vapourer Moth ones to be precise. Fortunately we were able to keep them at bay through diligent removal.
The courgettes and tomatoes both flourished giving plenty of produce. The root vegetables faired reasonably well; carrots were a little disappointing, the beetroots were pretty good, the broad beans were a disappointment but the champions were the courgettes and pumpkins.
The pumpkins are growing 40 ft over the roof of one garden to the next. We will be making pumpkin soup to have at Halloween with the staff carving them too – with a prize for the best one.
So what have we learnt? The soil wasn’t the best so we will add some good multi compost for next year. And we now know when and where the sun bathes the plot best.
We are looking forward to pulling the parsnips at Christmas – they should be a delightful addition to the turkey. We are now tidying the plot and preparing it for winter. But come next spring we will be up and running again for round two!