Yeo Valley Organic Garden

22 May

As an avid multi tasker, I was thrilled to be able to kill two birds with one garden visit this week! I was given the opportunity to attend a readers day with The Simple Things Magazine at the Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Somerset – a garden I had heard great things about , and I was able to take my mother along for an early mother / daughter birthday day out !

Nestling in the Mendip Hills, south of Bristol, Yeo Valley Organic Garden is owned by the Yeo Valley yogurt people and is located right next to their working organic dairy farm.

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The ethos of the dairy company -organic, sustainable, British and fun – run all the way through this garden, and is a clear testament to how they want us to live!
The six and half acres of contemporary , relatively new garden, is completely organic and the only certified organic garden in the uk.
And obviously no visit to an organic garden should start without a visit to the heart of its operation – the compost heap!

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So after the meet & greet and coffee with the lovely Simple Things folks, James Cox, the head gardener, led us off to his amazing compost area. With no artificial fertilisers or pesticides at his disposal, James’ attention has to turn to perfect soil and here they produce all their own compost soil improver, seed compost and potting compost. Huge covered bins produce top quality compost after only 10-12 weeks, thanks to meticulous planning and strict routine – only certain things are allowed on to the heaps and they are turned daily -real dedication.

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A structured vegetable garden supplies food to the house and the lovely contemporary cafe. Structure is not forgotten here and it is no utilitarian space as the cafe looks directly on to it. Box hedges ( a sure slug holding zone !) , ironwork sculptures and pretty flowers sit alongside the lettuces.

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A cutting garden supplies home grown flowers to the house, cafe and offices almost all year round. The tulips were over and the summer annuals were still small but there were still flowers to pick.

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There are three meadows at Yeo Valley, and as is the way with garden visits, they all looked ‘amazing’ last week ! The big grass bed was still a sea of grasses- stipa & calamagrotis, and blue iris, although we’d missed the camassias.

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The perennial meadow was aglow with buttercups – very appropriate for a dairy company, but of course we’d just missed the camassias and fritillarias !
Spot the solar panels on top of the barns – more signs of commitment to renewable energies.

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The annual meadow was looking very agricultural, hence no photo. It had been harrowed earlier in the year and sown with a traditional meadow mix -poppies, cornflower, toadflax and corn marigolds. I am sure it will look stunning in 6 weeks time.

The red and gold garden was ablaze with red oriental poppies

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The bronze garden was heaving with Buff Beauty roses, bronze fennel and orange geums.

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There were several more contemporary features including alliums surrounding the swimming pool, a glitter ball in the gazebo and quirky planters on the terrace.

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The large jewel in the crown is the gravel garden.

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This amazing space was only created in the last 5 years and in May is heaving with alliums, iris, achillea, aquilegia and delphiniums. The gravel paths swim through the exuberant planting. Peeping over the wall you see the Yeo Valley cows and Blagdon Lake. The view from the small mound lays out a tapestry of purple, green and silvers, with grasses, knautia, perovskia, echinaceas and rudbeckia taking over as the season progresses.

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Our perfect day included the chance to have a go at making butter – surprisingly hard work! Potentially good for the bingo wings but disastrous for the thighs as it tasted absolutely delicious once enhanced with chilli or chive flowers!
We also were shown how to make the perfect hand tied bouquet with flowers cut from the garden – never quite as easy as it looks unless you’ve got three hands !
Thank you to The Simple Things ladies – Lisa Sykes and Rebecca Frank for a lovely day and for arranging so much sunshine!
Yeo Valley Organic Garden is a truly inspirational place to visit – a relatively new garden but with a real feeling of longevity – so much thought has gone into the normally overlooked details – door handles, made of old trowels, vintage water bowser full of cow parsley, and a mini meadow ! And to have achieved all of this without so much as a sniff of glysophate or a single slug pellet is a real achievement !

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2 Responses to “Yeo Valley Organic Garden”

  1. Penny Padovani May 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    Very inspiring indeed Emma. Do you have to book to visit this garden? I would love to go when we are over staying in Marlborough for a few days in mid June.
    “Aunty” Pennyx

    • Emma Webber May 22, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      It is open Thursday and Friday and first Sunday of the month to the public but check out their website !! Ex

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