First a confession : in the age of sat nav all sorts of odd things happen. Yesterday Charles Dowding had an Open Day at his home, we had last visited in 2012 at Lower Farm .
We went with a couple of friends from Blaise Community Garden who were interested in learning more about the no-dig method and it was only after about half an hour, that Brian remarked this isn’t the same garden we went to last time. I was slightly baffled and Brian continued – it’s a different house and the garden was on a slope and it was bigger – I looked around and thought, yes, when we arrived it looked a bit different and I remembered there had been a yard and apricot trees up against the house, so we asked Charles who said with a huge beam and trying to keep a straight face that he had moved and he was very glad we hadn’t gone to the old house!
So how do these things happen? I am used to gardens changing, to old overgrown places being restored from woodland and decay to open healthy spaces, I have seen a few of those in my lifetime and I have a poor visual memory also; I would make a bad historian and I ignored the name change and the landscape and the house and focussed as always on the plants and the beds and ignored the bits that didn’t fit with my memory. In a way they weren’t important. But it was yet another lesson in how fallible memory can be.
Anyway, Charles has worked his magic and his skill in three years to make a new garden and productive growing space and it is as wonderful and enviable as the photos show here. Lots of information on his methods can be found on his website No dig Gardening – Charles Dowding and in his books.
These are some of Brian’s photos from our visit yesterday which I hope convey a sense and taste of the place.
We were particularly interested in his notes about growing fruit trees in strip beds and keeping them carefully pruned so they didn’t get too tall and the fruit remained pickable by hand.
The tomatoes grow beautifully up strings in the polytunnels, there was a very interesting experiment with a tumbling tomato growing in a mushroom box on a shelf that seemed to be going well.
I was very envious of the celeriac and the cabbages were remarkably hole free and quite glorious. Brian wanted his beetroots, I wanted everything!
There were flat yellow beans that we had for supper; a variety called Golden Gate. There were borlotti drying on their stems, masses of basil and herbs, oca, salsola, tree spinach, a huge feathery asparagus bed, all sorts of wonderful vegetables in amongst the carrots, parsnips and more.
Could I do it? maybe not, but I can always dream !