Yesterday I was invited over to see Holt Farm, the organic garden that was created by Sarah Mead near the idyllic Chew Valley lake. It was a perfect day. Rain then bright sunshine which made the colours and the view just come alive.
The garden may be in an idyllic setting but the family business (Yeo Valley dairy) sits right next door. I expected an amount of noise to come from a dairy of this size shipping products to every supermarket in the country but its 600 employees were seemingly silent and double-deck lorries crept slowly up the hills and out of sight.
I hardly knew the cows were there while sitting on the deck of the tearoom, eating home-made chocolate brownies and watching the hoverflies flitting from one flowering Broccoli to the next.
The view from the tearoom is largely the ornamental kitchen garden. Set out in raised beds (some with box hedging running diagonally through them) this part of the garden is neat and structured with brick pathways. Next door trained Apple trees line the borders, a cutting garden produces Narcissus at this time of year and fruit cages are home to ornamentally trained Raspberries. There are decorative forcing pots dotted around the garden too.
Broccoli has been allowed to flower and adds a bright yellow interest to what is an otherwise green kitchen garden at this time of year. The bees love it!
And brightly coloured colanders are lined with horticultural fleece and are busy growing herbs to furnish the tearoom tables on the deck.
The colours are a great contrast to the green backdrop.
But even the Lettuces and Cabbage at Holt Farm are victim to slug attack. Being a certified organic garden they need to find environmentally kind ways to eject our slimy friends. At the moment they are using pelleted sheep’s wool to protect Kale…
…and oyster shells around their Broadbeans. Both with, ‘some success’, according to Sarah.
The garden is so much more than a kitchen garden. There is a beautiful tulip garden, wild flower meadow, shade garden, and reflecting pool. All pieced together with wiggling walkways and a view of the lake. But by this time the brightly painted sea-sidey chairs were calling me again and it was time for more coffee and biscuits.
If you’d like to visit the garden it’s open Thursdays 10.00 – 5.00pm from the 12th April to the end of September, and the first Sunday of the month 2.00-5.00pm May-September. There are also courses running throughout the summer. The garden is also open as part of the National Garden Scheme for charity.