June 9, 2020
We never want to see these signs closing off the Bishop’s Garden from visitors. Our wish is to share the beauty with all who come to find peace, serenity, and nature’s gifts in the shadow of the cathedral. Extraordinary circumstances make this temporary limited closure necessary.
Coronavirus Side Effects
For two weeks following March 23, 2020, the PECF facilities and horticulture staff were directed not to report to work. During that last week of March and first week of April, no gardeners cleaned up the beds, or pulled the flourishing weeds, or dug in plants waiting in holding stations.
As staff began to return, they were assigned to work three days a week for eight-hour days (24-hour work week) to preserve social distancing while managers worked out a plan to accommodate safety, including staggered breaks and lunchtimes, use of Workman garden carts, and even washrooms too small to allow compliance.
Creeping Toward Normal
Monday, June 1st, staff returned to work their regular 40-hour weeks, joined by two interns, sponsored by All Hallows Guild, to help with the work load. The interns also must be fit into the space and time requirements.
As Grounds staff increase their hours, they are gradually catching up with necessary garden maintenance; however, they find it difficult to work efficiently and safely due to the increasing volume of visitors, especially in the Bishop’s Garden. Preserving distance while maneuvering wheelbarrows in the Bishop’s Garden narrow paths is hampered by visitors sitting on the benches beside the paths and the beds requiring maintenance. Increasing numbers of people in the garden making social distancing while working nearly impossible.
Supporting our Gardeners
Accordingly, the Bishop’s Garden has “temporary restricted hours for maintenance” from 6 am – noon (Mon – Fri) for the first weeks of June only. South Bishop’s lawn, next to Pilgrim Road, will remain open as well as the rest of the Close. Other appealing areas for refreshing walks or contemplation (or rolling on the grass) are the West Front, the North Lawn, the Olmsted Woods, the Apse, and the All Hallows Amphitheater.
This temporary restriction of people in the Bishop’s Garden allows us to train the interns in their summer duties without the constant concern of trying to keep physical distance from visitors coming at them from all directions. It will allow us to use our flame weed torches to get the weeds on the pathways under control without endangering visitors, and to get a large amount of backlogged maintenance done effectively. After these two intensive weeks, staff can concentrate on other, less crowded areas, like the Nitze Garden, Sayre House, and the Pollinator Garden, and of course wage the constant battle against invasives in the Olmsted Woods.
The horticulture staff and we in All Hallows Guild appreciate your understanding and forbearance. Please come back soon!