Illustration of gardenWelcome to The beekeeper’s garden blog

"This is our show garden for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
7-12th July 2009.

This is a garden which is not simply designed to be beautiful- it also has a purpose. We want to encourage every gardener either to keep bees or to grow plants which are attractive to bees. The Beekeeper’s Garden is filled with plants which are attractive to bees- plants of all kinds: flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. The predominant colours are blue, lilac and purple as these are the colours which attract bees the most.
The garden is entered via a wrought-iron pergola which, most unusually, is completely enveloped in climbing vegetables. A path leads to the central feature of the garden, which is an Apiary, which was inspired by a sketch in Victorian garden writer Shirley Hibberd’s journal. The Apiary is fronted by a pebble-mosaic by Maggy Howarth and is flanked by espaliered apple trees and an apple orchard. Apple trees have been chosen as a central feature of the garden as the apple crop is dependent upon bee pollination and is under threat because of the decline in the bee population.
The theme of the garden, to echo the words of William Morris, is that it will contain nothing which we do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

The beekeeper’s garden has been co-designed by Jonathan Denby and Nicola Hills, both from Cumbria.

Jonathan DenbyJonathan Denby is the creator of Yewbarrow House garden, a “starred” garden in the Good Gardens guide and the most visited garden in Cumbria under the National Gardens Scheme for each of the last five years. The garden contains many Victorian features, to reflect Jonathan’s passion for Victorian gardening and has a collection of exotic plants, which thrive despite the northerly location.

Nicola HillsNicola Hills trained at Merrist Wood in Surrey as a professional garden designer.
Her studio is based in Levens Hall in Cumbria and the company is soon to be taking an additional office in Manchester.
Nicola founded Damson Design Ltd in 2004 and the practice now combines landscape design and architecture.
Damson has won several awards for innovative designs in the region.
For Nicola's debut at Hampton Court, she was inspired to create a garden that was both practical and beautiful.
"The garden features many interesting and unusual vegetables, promoting the idea that self-sufficiency can enhance the visual appearance of a garden as well as provide food for the family".

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

The Garden is Open…

queuing

queuing_patiently

The crowds are incredible, but it’s a pleasure to see them enjoying the garden  (most of the show gardens keep the public out), even though they do have to queue (rather patiently) to get in.

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Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

BBC Coverage…

joe_swiftJoe Swift filming in the garden, for the piece which will go out on BBC2 tomorrow evening.  They tell us that the 4 1/2 minutes which they recorded previously has now been extended to 8 minutes!

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Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Press Day

princessOur celebrity visitors included Sting (in a bee garden, who else?) and Susan Hampshire. But the highlight was a visit from Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra.
She spent 10 minutes chatting to me and was especially interested in Maggy Howarth’s mosaic. She asked for Maggy’s card before she left and ended with the
words “That was a treat. Utterly charming”.
We also had a visit from an RHS judge, who has just retired after 19 years, who remarked: “Yours is the best garden by a mile”.

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Monday, July 6th, 2009

The Results…….

certificateWow! This is as good as we could have expected, but so close to the jackpot.
Later, the Chairman of the Judges gave us a frank appraisal of why we didn’t achieve the magic Gold. He told us what we already knew, that the main failing was the pergola, which was too flimsy in comparison to the other more solid structures. They also didn’t like the fact that it was metal, which they thought might get too hot. They were also critical of the fig tree, which they said didn’t have any relevance to the “bee” theme. The main lesson I have learned is to keep things as simple as possible. Our garden has two themes, bees and sustainability and this gives a confusing message.

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Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Judgement Day….

assessorsA nail-biting half hour when the assessors went round the garden, prior to the judging tomorrow.  Their role is to see if you have kept to the brief- which we have- to the letter.

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Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Meanwhile…..

toby_bucklandRushed back from Hampton Court for filming in my garden in Grange with  Toby Buckland for a Gardener’s World “special” on coastal gardens, which will go out later in the year (or early next).   Toby is just plain nice- down to earth, relaxed and very good at putting you at your ease. Adrian, the sound guy has known him for 15 years and says he hasn’t changed one bit, despite his recent fame.

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Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Progress Report….

cypher_officesAt the offices of Cypher,  finalising the details of our brochure, the signs and the literature stand.
It’s always a  pleasure to visit them as they are, without exception a great bunch of people and they’ve looked after me on the print and web side of things for as long as I can remember.  They have designed and hosted this blog, and are doing all our print work for the show free of charge., and when I asked them if the would get any benefit from a little mention in our brochure I was amazed to find that they have lots of customers in London and worldwide- including Google! This is the link to their website-
http://www.cypherdigital.co.uk/.  I feel quite proud to be their customer.

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Monday, June 29th, 2009

Progress Report…..

bee_hiveHere’s an irony. At a time when my bee-hive sits there folornly, waiting for its first colony of bees, most of my family seemed to have acquired them. After lunch with my mother, who is 90, at her house in Hest Bank, she remarked to me, quite casually- “Come and look at my new bees”- and there in a corner of her paddock were two active bee hives, placed there by a friendly neighbour who doesn’t have room  for them in his own garden.  And my sister, who lives in Nottingham, has a visiting swarm in her spare bedroom- the local beekeeer’s association are investigating.  If only we were so lucky.

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Friday, June 26th, 2009

Progress Report…..

skep

 

The skeps have arrived.  Beautifully made to order by David Chubb- http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/cotswoldbeeskeps/. Our part-time gardener, Norman was completely perplexed by them  He thought at first that they might be head-gear, but when he tried one on it was too large.  Eventually Margaret persuaded him that they were a handy receptacle to use when weeding and should be worn strapped to one’s  back using a purpose made leather strap.

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Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Progress Report….

apiary_roof_in_placeWe felt enormous relief to see the Apiary safely installed today as we couldn’t finish the paths or start the planting until it was safely in place.  Nicola was very nervous about meeting the deadline, especially as the joiners were very laid back. But I’ve dealt with these guys almost continuously over the last ten years on dozens of projects.  I knew that they knew that this was my baby and there was no way they could let me down.  So a big thanks to Richard from the Joinery Shop, Phil Shaw, the joiner and Carl Taylor the  builder for their very hard work. Phil and his mate Darren  left Cumbria at first light, arrived on site at 9.30 and didn’t stop until the job was done at 4.30pm when they set off back to Cumbria.

 

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