Visit to a local (Keighley) garden to meet the growers at ‘Those Plant People’

Friday 27th April, 2018

As part of operation Orchard, our project funded by the players of the Postcode local trust, we are visiting places that can help us increase our knowledge about environmentally sensitive gardening; what to plant. Andrew and Pippa have a garden in Steeton which includes flower meadows, veg area, forest garden and orchard. Both professional gardeners with RHS training, they have spent many years working out what they feel is the best way to garden sympathetically and effectively and productively. Andrew showed us their flower meadows which include plants, both native and ornamental, to attract bees. We saw how encouraging a balanced ecology created a successful fruit garden.  The fruit bushes are less prone to mildew if their roots don’t dry out – a consequence of bare soil – so they allow the grass and other vegetation to grow below the bushes. The same with the fruit trees; they are planting guilds amongst the grass in the understory below the trees. These plants include early flowering comfrey (great for pollinating insects) and large leave Trachestemon which help to mulch more invasive plants. 

We had started our visit under shelter, enjoying some lovely cake, whilst Andrew explained how they preserve their crop by dehydrating and juicing. We tasting some delicious dried fruits, and were shown some of the pumpkins that that they have bred – developing taste but also storage properties. 

The rain did not dampen our mood; this was an inspiring visit with plenty of information and ideas to take away and consider at the orchard. 

P.S. We returned a few weeks later to buy some plants which we will plant under and around the trees. Brunera, Symphytum Hidcote Blue (the early flowering comfrey), Trachestemon, Chaenophyllum roseum (a pink flowering chervil) and Primula japonica (a candelabra type primrose, quite fancy!)