Last June I visited Yeo Valley Organic Garden for a fantastic tour, lunch and an afternoon learning about organic composting, pest control and gardening methods. The weather was perfect, the bees and damselflies were out in force and the coffee and cake were plentiful!
It was my second visit to the gardens and I was completely smitten once again. Organic heaven!
Click on the galleries to enlarge photos and read descriptions.
Owner Sarah Mead and former head gardener Eileen O'Donnell had given an inspirational talk at Fagus gardening club in 2017 about the history of Yeo Valley and all the fascinating trials and tribulations of designing and building the clay soiled organic garden so I was really excited about exploring all these elements and seeing them first hand for myself.
You may already be familiar with Yeo Valley's Yeoken tokens that you can collect on many of their products such as yoghurts and milk? Save the Yeokens and you can exchange them for experience days, amongst other things such as festival tickets and tea towels. Well save 650 Yeokens and you can book an incredible day at the gardens including a guided tour of their extensive grounds.
After a coffee, cake and welcome chat from the team, Yeo Valley gardener Matt took us on an extensive guided tour of the grounds. So much to see.
An incredible bespoke gate separated the storage/tool area and the cut flower garden. I was delighted to see their simple but effective way of dealing with the practicalities of gardening on different levels; steps are divided by a nifty stone ramp enabling easy passage way up and down for wheelbarrows. Genius!
Passed the kitchen garden you discover the red and lime garden inspired by Hidcote Manor Garden's red border, which hosted an impressive collection of Eremurus foxtail lilies giant yellow, Crocosmia 'Hellfire' and Lucifer'. The citrus colour combinations were glorious.
A more formal layout was adopted in the Bronze garden with a linear mirror pond set in the backdrop of the beautiful Holt Farmhouse. Black dye coloured the water to give a convincing mirror-like illusion which also helps cut down on algae growth too due to the reduced light levels.
Rosa 'Buff Beauty' lined both sides of the mirror pond and provided a stunning contrast reflected in the water, alongside the watchful eye of the surface skimmer fisherman sculpture.
Beyond the Mirror pond and red and lime borders was a huge grass border with extended views borrowed from the surrounding countryside and hills; again this was a natural haven for wildlife. When you moved so did all the surrounding foliage, damselflies flew up from every direction.
The grasses provided an ideal playground for insects and was absolutely teaming with life. I was lucky enough to even stumble across a happy couple mating!
The grasses and gravel garden were showered with the most incredibly beautiful Nectaroscordum siculum, Sicilian honey garlic which were also a big hit with the wildlife as well as the visitors. ...added Sicilian honey garlic to my must buy list !
The tour continued though the grass border which was normally cut late January/early February although this year was cut in autumn to provide habitats for over-wintering wildlife such as ladybirds and lacewings which you can read all about on the Yeo Valley blog.
Then we meandered through the perennial meadow host to hundreds of snowdrops and camassia earlier in the year as well as a myriad of wildlife.