Worton Organic Garden – a hidden gem.

2 Jun

If you’re getting a little weary of the neat formality of many National Trust gardens, and the unrealistic aspirations of all the Chelsea gardens, then you need to visit Worton Organic Gardens, Cassington Oxon.

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It is a complete gem of a garden, so well hidden in the North Oxfordshire countryside that you feel really privileged to have found it.

This garden is primarily an organic vegetable garden, growing produce for the on site farm shop and organic restaurant but it’s really so much more.

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The elegant pavilion that greets you has the words ” L’arte di mangiar bene”above the door, which I think my poor Italian translates as the art of eating well. Borders leading down to the shop are waist high but saving their glory till late summer.

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In side the shop, this was the arrangement of flowers that met me and told me ‘ this is your kind of place ‘!! All grown on site and beautifully arranged amongst the fresh produce like a Dutch still life.

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The shop was bursting with homegrown organic produce and selected imports – this isn’t your normal ‘muddy carrots’ farm shop – best Sicilian lemons and African yams were amongst the produce on offer. Along with fresh eggs, local cheeses, bunches of sweet peas, and locally made condiments. I came away with freshly harvested broad beans, asparagus, goats cheese, sweet peas and the most delicious home baked currant bread – not a sweet dough, so tasty with jam or cheese !

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Wandering into the cafe, desperate for a coffee, we were alarmed to find all the tables reserved, but luckily there were plenty of free tables outside – which is really where you want to be in amongst the garden. The menu was more of a restaurant menu with no sandwiches so we shared a delicious plate of charcuterie with more home made bread.

Once we’d eaten, we set off exploring. There is a beautiful cutting patch full of sweet rocket, poppies, lupins and sweet peas. Everything clearly self seeds with abandon and this is a good lesson in learning to let go of your garden a little and learn to love its wild side a bit ! You’d be amazed at what a little managed neglect can achieve !

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Round the back of the cafe we found chickens, bees, pigs, poly tunnels and several greenhouses – all managed organically. There was even a composting loo ! Afraid to say I wasn’t brave enough ( or desperate enough!) to try it !

The main outside growing patch was finely tilled awaiting beans and courgettes. There were several piles of hay bales, topped off with green kitchen waste where I suspect they were going to plant pumpkins and squashes shortly.

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I came away determined to return regularly , and to book a table for a proper lunch. This is the kind of place to come to really relax and be inspired, rather than coming away frustrated that everyone else’s gardens are so much bigger/ better/ tidier / more organised than your own.

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I reluctantly tell you that Worton organic vegetable garden is open Thursday – Saturday 10-4 pm and Sunday 11-4pm , as I’d really rather like to keep it as my secret !!

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