Taking a busman’s holiday


It was a slightly grey and drizzly day, but that couldn’t put a dampener on my visit today to the annual Garden Open Day at River Cottage. It was a hugely enjoyable event – and terrifically good value at only £15 for the whole day, including a fantastic lunch. The speakers were varied, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and entertaining.

Steph Hafferty passed round some of her home made potions created from garden plants – some sweet and appealing, others (intentionally!) more abrasive!

It was great to hear Will Livingstone talk about how he runs the creatively designed and immaculately kept River Cottage kitchen garden. I’ve taken note of the variety of purple sprouting broccoli he recommends – Santee – which looks shorter than the one I’ve grown previously. I’ve taken lots of photos of his climbing plant supports, which looked both sturdy and attractive.


Ash Wheeler of Trill Farm Garden nonchalantly unpacked over 20 varieties of salad leaf to show us, and had me planning to make better use of our greenhouse over next winter.

I was sorry not to be able to squeeze into the talk given by Sally Nex, particularly as I follow her blog – perhaps I will have the opportunity another time.

I am an enormous admirer of Charles Dowding, who gave me some terribly helpful advice when I was starting off on the no-dig method, so it was a great pleasure to hear him speak with his customary enthusiasm, huge knowledge and gentle humour.

I particularly liked his idea of starting off an asparagus bed in the no-dig manner, by planting asparagus crowns into compost on undisturbed pasture. This may bring my asparagus bed a year – or more – closer to fruition…..

It’s a good job that the weather forecast is excellent for tomorrow, as I am full of inspiration and excitement to be out in the garden!

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