Just come back from an enjoyable visit to Holt Farm in North Somerset and their ‘Seedy Sunday’ event. The six and a half acres of garden are one of only a handful of ornamental gardens to be certified organic by the Soil Association and is owned by the family behind the Yeo Valley dairy business. The ‘Seedy Sunday’ run in conjunction with the Heritage Seed Library is an opportunity for people to swap seeds and pick up unusual varieties. There were also local plant nurseries attending, although I managed to resist this temptation.
The first ‘Seedy Sunday’ was held in 2002 in Brighton, the idea being that people could get together and swap seeds. The idea took off and has spread to other parts of the country. I didn’t take any seeds along to swap because my spare seeds are being donated to a local community garden this winter but I did make a donation for several packets from the Heritage Seed Library and bought some other seeds from a local nursery, Pennard Plants, that had a stall at the event. I came away with a packet each of Uchiki kuri squash, Victorian podded peas, Yugoslavian black bean (a dwarf french bean) and some Sweet peas called ‘Just Jenny’.
The Heritage Seed Library is part of Garden Organic which used to be the Henry Doubleday Research Association. It aims to protect old varieties of seeds, mainly from Europe, that are not on the EU’s approved seed list and because they are not approved by Europe it is illegal to sell them. To get around this problem you can go along to events like today and donate, swap or become a member of the HSL for £20 a year and then you can choose up to 6 varieties and swap for other seeds.
I was mainly interested in visiting the seed swap but the gardens were an added bonus. The gardens at Holt Farm are contemporary in style, with a gravel garden, use of grasses and beautiful sculptures. This strangely mild autumn that we are experiencing meant the gardens still looked beautiful with the structure of grasses and seed heads.
There was a wildflower meadow with coreopsis, cornflower and ammi still in flower and a cutflower garden with dahlias, cleome and scabious blooming and an ornamental veg garden. The garden is still a work in progress (what garden isn’t) with new sections such as a woodland walk that will take a while to reach maturity. I would certainly visit the gardens again, especially in late summer when the gravel garden will look at it’s best. The location is beautiful, at the foot of the Mendip Hills, overlooking Blagdon Water. I loved the attention to detail in the garden with the beautiful bespoke iron gates and sculptures.
Always a bonus is an excellent cafe and I would certainly recommend the food at Holt Farm. So all in all a great day out.
For more information on Holt Farm go to http://theorganicgardens.co.uk/, ‘Seedy Sundays go to http://www.seedysunday.org and the Heritage Seed Library go to http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/hsl/hsl.php.