Gardeners from the hotel and the Minster will be installing a sustainable organically cultivated edible garden and community attraction in the space. It is hoped that the garden will provide an abundance of home grown produce for the hotel and for local food banks.
Grays Court Head Gardener, Jules Fern, has spoken of her delight to be leading the project where work has recently commenced:
Making this garden beside the beauty of the Minster and getting to create something fresh to further enhance this heritage space is a great privilege. Growing produce that will be enjoyed right on the premises within hours of harvesting is incredibly gratifying, as is getting to bring in new planting that will greatly enhance the beauty and the biodiversity of the garden. We are lucky to be working with Brunswick Organic Nursery in Bishopthorpe; Brunswick is supplying all of our vegetable seedlings. A massive thanks to Beacon Alpaca Farm in Husthwaite too, which has kindly been donating alpaca manure for the garden.
Why a ‘no-dig’ garden? When we look at the sea, we just see its surface, but we know that underneath the waves there is a whole underwater world teeming with life. The same is true of the soil. One teaspoon of soil contains more microorganisms than there are people on earth! Every time we dig soil we disturb the soil’s structure and the complex web of life living within it. With a no-dig garden we nurture the soil by applying generous top-dressings of mulch, and the soil, in turn, nurtures the plants growing in it”
Jules was responsible for devising the project and plan for the garden which will breathe new life into the area by providing stunning planting with year-round interest for tourists and locals with sustainably managed and organically grown edibles and a space for community engagement. Produce grown in the space will be used within the kitchens at Grays Court Hotel’s restaurant, The Bow Room. It is proposed that any surplus produce be donated to local food banks. Best practices will be followed for sustainable management of the garden, e.g. composting, mulching, no use of pesticides and herbicides, companion planting, cover-cropping.
These sentiments were supported by Canon Maggie McLean, who leads The Minster’s Environmental Sustainability programme who said:
“We are delighted to partner with our neighbours at the Grays Court Hotel on such a wonderful project. Our gardening teams will work to transform this plot of land into a productive and beautiful kitchen garden using techniques that will benefit soil and plant health and create a habitat that will attract a diverse range of pollinators. We look forward to next spring and summer when the new garden will really come into its own.”
It is anticipated that the initial programme of works on the garden will be completed by Christmas with the first harvest of produce expected in the Spring.
Photo: Daniel Easton