Imagine my delight when my in-laws said we were going garden visiting. But this was a garden like none other I’ve visited. This was a garden right up my street. The perfect place to visit to inspire me for what is to come when we eventually return home to New Zealand. The garden we visited was the organic garden at Ryton which is a showcase and research institute for organic growing and gardening.
This was no manicured garden but a series of gardens showing the multitude of ways that organic food and plants can be grown. I was totally bowled over with it all. I took around 200 photographs, mostly of great ideas that I’m going to try out in our garden at home.
Although the best of the growing season in the UK is over right now there was still plenty of produce to look at and a proliferation of flowers making it a really attractive place to be. The thing I liked most is that they demonstrated a wide range of growing ways – raised beds, allotment, biodynamic, modern designs, traditional designs, container gardening. You name it, it was there to see.
I’d see this technique in books but never could see how it would work. Up close you can see that it’s a simple netting some sticks and a couple of upturned pots. It creates the perfect protection for your cabbages from the pesky butterflies.
There is nothing like seeing things first hand to really understand what it takes to create an effective growing environment. After only a few minutes at this garden my mind was racing towards all those packets of seeds I have back home waiting to be planted. I realise it’s going to be hard work but it will be fun and rewarding too I’m sure. There are 12 full time gardeners and an army of volunteers at Ryton. Even then there was still plenty of weeding and hoeing to be done.
There were plenty of tomatoes growing in greenhouses too that would be requiring regular watering.
These chillies looked so good I had to hold back from picking one to eat right there on the spot.
I was amazed the various pest weapons they were using to enable the leaves and lettuces to grown to be big and strong. I am now going to widen my search in New Zealand to this particular product for those hard to catch blighters.
I’m looking forward to the time when I’ll be taking photographs of our crops – I hope they look as good as these.
All in all this is one of the best gardens I’ve visited for a very long time. In fact, it’s probably the first I’ve visited that has covered flowering gardens and food gardens in such detail and depth. And all of it completely organic.
I am even more determined to make our kitchen garden a success. I was so inspired that when we stopped off at the Astley Book Farm on the way home I snapped up Food and Drink from your Garden by Daniel Green, written in 1975. Although this book is over 25 years old it is clear that the same motivations for wanting to grow your own food and drink haven’t changed that much.