Red Shed Nursery, Lees Stables, Coldstream TD124LF

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Summer Open Day

The first open day of 2013 took place under a clear, sunny sky on July 13th. This journal piece is by Karen and Annie, guests on the day.


We’d stayed overnight in the campervan a little way outside Coldstream at a place called Pathhead. We’d offered to help Graham and Nancy before everyone else arrived and so were at Garden Cottage at around 9 0’clock. The morning was a little overcast but the forecast was good. We were in high spirits. We’d visited the garden several times, as volunteers and also because we are on the Permaculture Design Course that Graham is running from Garden Cottage this year.

By the way, the course is fantastic, we are half-way through and enjoying every minute. Graham is an amazing teacher and learning in such fantastic surroundings of the forest garden that he and Nancy have created is a pleasure and a privilege. If you are thinking of learning more about permaculture I would recommend it. Graham’s knowledge is second to none – after all he’s lived permaculture for over 25 years. And why learn in a hall or community centre when you can learn amongst the very habitat that permaculturists are looking to create.

Anyway, Graham soon put us to work and at 11am folk started to arrive and enjoyed tea, coffee and cake and a wander in the garden. When everyone had arrive Graham conducted a guided tour, explaning the history of the garden and some of the design concepts. He gave an introduction to plant identification which came in really useful when we were all let loose picking salad! Did you know that you can have sixty edible plants at your disposal most of the summer? I didn’t – but I do now. We picked three massive bowls of salad and not a boring old lettuce leaf in any! l

Lunch was a fabulous collection of meals prepared mainly from garden produce,  together with goodies that people had brought with them to share. This sharing of abundance is such a beautiful aspect of permaculture. I even took home gooseberries and rhubarb from the garden and now have two gallons of wine bubbling away in the attic. The best part, though, is the chance to chat with like-minded people. We all tend to rush through our lives. Rushing for the bus, scrambling to meet deadlines, juggling work, kids, leisure, parents, family and so it was a really refreshing opportunity to talk with people about their aspirations for their gardens and lives using the principles of permaculture.

After lunch, a challenge! How much fruit can we pick in how much time? Now I know this is just Grahams sneaky way of using our free labour to harvest his fruit, :0) but it is still great fun! The kids who were there really enjoyed this part of the day. Graham grows red white and black currants, gooseberries, worcesterberries, jostaberries, goji berries, loganberries, tayberries, raspberries, autumn raspberries, wine berries, grapes, edible honeysuckle, mahonia berries, red and white alpine strawberries, maincrop strawberries. The gooseberries bushes were laden with fruit so they were easy pickings. The redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries too. Alpine strawberries are a pest to pick but the flavour makes it well worth the effort.

There is so much abundance in this garden that it can’t all be eaten fresh and Nancy gave a talk about preserving techniques. I chose the method of turning fruit into wine but I won’t know until December just how successful, or otherwise, I’ve been.

And at the end of the day, more opportunity to chat to each other and to Graham and Nancy. They wear their knowledge so lightly and share it so freely that it is a pleasure to be in their company. What a fantastic day!

I took lots photographs from the day and have shared them on facebook – here

The next Open Day is in October – apple picking!  Can’t wait!

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