Growing Awareness - last year's achievements and this year's plans

14th January, 2020
by Julian | 4 Min Read
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Welcome to the latest news-post with our Head Gardener Bryony Middleton

Garden achievements...and aspirations!

Winter is a gratifying time of year, with plant growth and vegetables slowing down, allowing time to restore and refresh the garden with some winter care: pruning, clearing and working on infrastructure.

It is also a time to balance the outdoor, physically-strenuous work with some cognitive creativity. Planning for the year ahead while keeping away from the wild winds of winter currently blowing over the hills of Sharpham Estate.

I love this time of year to take stock of the last and make room for improvements to come, consolidating it all into a tidy and detailed crop and garden plan for 2020, and implementing the garden of dreams.

Fresh from attending the Oxford Real Farming Conference at the beginning of January, I am enthused with ideas to make the grounds at Sharpham more diverse, wildlife friendly, efficient and fun!

Top achievements of 2019

  • We produced over 2.7 tonnes of fruit and vegetables in the Walled Garden in 2019 – a bumper year, the best yet!
  • The Summer Open Day was the peak of our garden abundance with hundreds of people enjoying the gardens and the beds bursting with peas, beans, salads and greens and a new climbing squash patch in an old cleared hotbed.
  • 2019 was a year of clearing and tidying to make way for the new, getting rid of old clutter in the Bothy, 2nd Walled Garden, brambles in the orchards, old pear trees in the hotbeds damaging the wall structure.  Looking ahead we now have space and energy to really improve the gardens, and allow for positive change.
  • We planted 23 new fruit trees in our Home Orchard slopes, and also pruned the fruiting trees in Home Orchard, which is a feat not to be belittled!
  • We grew many beautiful cut flowers to be used to beautify the retreats at Sharpham.
  • We had a trusty crew of volunteers to help us in the gardens every Tuesday and Schumacher College Horticulture students on Thursday mornings. Thanks so much to you all, we couldn’t do it without you!
  • Amy completed her Apprenticeship in Horticulture with flying colours and we managed to entice her into employment with us for another year!
  • I completed a Forest Garden Design Course, an Apple Pruning Course and Amy and I attended a Medicinal Herb Forest course.


New for 2020

  • We will be holding a FREE Tree Care Day on Sunday 1 March, when we will be working with volunteers on some of the trees around our parkland. To find out more and to sign up, click here
  • We will also be hosting an Apple Tree Pruning Day Course lead by Orchardlink on Sunday 16 Feb. Book here
  • We put up a Polytunnel! So we have been busy moving the old Flower Cutting Garden to the east wall, where we have organised it in 3 sections – annuals, perennials and bulbs/corms/rhizomes. The polytunnel will be home to tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and basil, and will allow for better rotation between indoor crops, giving our iconic glasshouse some much needed TLC.
  • We're planning and implementing the Tea Garden – This will transform our current Rose Garden into a garden for herbal tea production, to include roses, calendula, lavender, rosemary, mints, fennel, chamomile, lady’s mantel, echinacea and many other wonderful herbs.
  • We will looking into the viability of taking on horticultural trainees, in order to pass on our knowledge and train up future gardeners and also how to integrate the gardens more closely into the retreat programme.


These are exciting times, and I hope to see you in the gardens this year in some capacity, whether on retreat, visiting on an Open Day or volunteering.

Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here

Find out how to volunteer in Sharpham's gardens and on the wider Estate here