Friday, 26 August 2011

Hardstoft Herbs

I always forget just how busy August gets for me. There's not only the edible explosion that is the garden, but also the birthday of Ma-in-Law and myself (36! A square triangular number! 36! That's how many gallons are in a standard barrel of beer!).
I was very spoiled by MikeyFox, who took me out for a number of day trips this month. The first being to Hardstoft Herbs in Derbyshire. A herb garden set up in 1983 by the lovely Lynne Raynor & her husband Steve. In 1991 they opened an additional 3 display gardens at Hardstoft; the Lavender garden, the Pot Pourri garden & the stunning Physic garden.

I have been mulling over turning the front garden into a herb & flower garden (its currently a mish-mash of culinary herbs, edible flowers & the odd clump of salsify & beetroot), as since with the back garden & allotment up & running, I don't really need any more vegetable growing space (yes, I know it's a shock. It surprised me too!). But I would love to grow more medicinal herbs & wildflowers, so next years big project will be turning out front into something a bit prettier and a little less shambolic.

Visiting an established herb garden was such a great inspiration for me. Being able to see herbs & wildflowers at their full height & spread, what works well in full sun & what needs some shade really helps you when planning out your own patch, whatever its size. And seeing the height that some plants get too, whether they shoot straight up, or bush out, what spreads and what remains compact, was invaluable. It was also interesting to see how formal garden designs compare with informal ones. How you can take aspects of formal gardens (like box edging, brick paths & clipped hedges) & soften them into more relaxed affairs.
This is the main garden, and the original. It's a parterre, meaning it's a formal design with clipped hedge edging & level paths arranged in a symmetrical pattern. The garden is dotted with sculptures & beautiful little benches like this cartwheel seat. A beautiful place to sit & watch the world go by!

The Lavender garden is a real feast for the senses! A collection of over 40 varieties of lavenders, from the elegant Old English Lavender to the charming bract or 'bunny ears' lavenders. The colours were enchanting, from white to pink, even deep red! And the fragrance was heavenly. I will definitely be splashing out on some interesting varieties of Lavender, and plant for height & colour as well as fragrance.

Speaking of fragrance, the Pot Pourri garden was quite overwhelming! It was very popular with the bees too, and who can blame them? Scented Roses, Geraniums, Lemon Verbena & Mints all jostled around the central pathway along with more unusual herbs like Southernwood & Hyssop, as well as interesting flowerheads like Thistle & Teasle. I plan to grow lots of Southernwood, I love the camphorous aroma, and the feel of running my fingers through the feathery leaves.

And finally the Physic garden. I probably wouldn't grow many of the herbs from here, though it was fascinating to finally see herbs that I have read so much about, like Mandrake, Belladonna & Aconite. It was also interesting to see herbs like Tea Tree & Ginseng growing in the UK, and much more familiar herbs like Marigold, Rosemary & Peppermint, which I'm much more likely to have in my own herb garden! It also reminded me of the medicinal herbs I used to grow. My old garden was full of Wormwood, Goldenrod, Angelica, Sweet Woodruff, Feverfew, Echinacea & St John's Wort. And I look forward to growing them again soon.

Hardstoft Herbs also has a shop where you can buy many of the herbs on display in the gardens (though not Mandrake!). So I was allowed to run riot, and got myself a selection of lovely little plants to get me started!
So if you find yourself in Derbyshire on a sunny day, do go and say hello. It's a beautiful place to visit!

1 comment:

Ruthdigs said...

I love the lavender 'Madrid Blue' - one of the bunny ears types with white petals above a blue 'head', really pretty. Like to see your finished garden, I'm thinking of putting a herb section into the back garden at the moment - more convenient than at the allotment. x