Wednesday, 7 March 2012

ryton gardens, coventry

I have said before that Lawrence Hills was the writer and thinker about gardening who shaped my own gardening philosophy. I remember so clearly the excitement I felt on reading his 'Organic Gardening' back in 1978.

It was Hills who founded the Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA) that is now 'Garden Organic'. And Hills too who led the HDRA to its national centre at Ryton.

We visited Ryton Gardens at the weekend.

A garden largely devoted to vegetable growing is an odd choice to visit in early March- but I am delighted to say how impressed I was.

The centre is excellent, offering a wide range of gardening and 'eco-friendly' products. The cafe offered an intriguing broccoli and almond soup with excellent bread for lunch.

But it was in the landscaping ideas, that I was most taken.

The first thing that greeted us was a mystery lonicera, sweetly fragrant and buzzing with honey bees. Its habit was non-clinging. And I want one!!!

The gardens themselves were tidy and dormant, but the orchard saw trees underplanted with daffodils, iris reticulata and winter aconites. What worked well here was that the ground beneath the trees was grass free and could receive a load of manure in the winter with the bulbs also being nourished by this feed and giving spring time interest. I can use that idea!!

Our plans for the development of our vegetable garden moved ahead with their 'allotment garden'. The paths were crushed limestone and wide to accommodate visitors. Our paths could be narrower, could use crushed brick but I can see this kind of layout working for us. Manageable but attractive.

Beyond the orchards we found a couple of old-fashioned bee hives. We had already planned to have one of these standing proudly in our orchard one day.

And what about these marvellous tusks? Wouldn't they be a dramatic entrance to a different section of the garden?

Great gardens offer interest throughout the year. We'll be back to Ryton before too long.

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