A flavour of Summer at Inkpen Garden

We are all feeling so inspired on our return to our kitchen garden in Inkpen, amid the idyllic far-reaching views of West Berkshire, that we wanted to offer you a glimpse of it through our gardening group’s own reflections. So after setting down our tools to enjoy lunch under the gazebo on a perfect late Spring day, we contemplated what it meant to each of us to cultivate our vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers together in this most beautiful of walled gardens.

John, who has been coming along to the garden for many years, feels that the camaraderie and social interaction are as beneficial to him as working on the vegetable garden (or should I say potager!), and this was enthusiastically endorsed by the group. John has an innate ability to make us laugh and to occasionally break into spontaneous song which is quite infectious - and he was amused when, as our potato expert, we nicknamed him ‘King Edward’!  Similarly, Julie, who was on holiday in Cornwall last week, is our floral expert and affectionately known among us as our ‘flower fairy’. On her return to Inkpen this week, Julie said she enjoys everything about spending time with us all in the garden and tending the plants and flowers.

Sue remarked what a pretty, calming and tranquil place the gardens and grounds are and she is particularly fond of seeing the estate’s horses in their stables or grazing in the paddock.

Bridget agreed how peaceful it was and how it makes her feel very calm, adding that it also inspires her to get out into her own garden more often. She said that, now she has more time, she loves coming to Inkpen as the people are so friendly and she feels at home here.

The garden created a sense of being in the moment for Barbara, Sue’s partner, which I think forms the basis for mindfulness in helping to banish intrusive thoughts. Barbara felt that two o’clock, when we say our goodbyes for another week, always comes round too quickly for her and Sue!

The scenery and beauty of the estate and garden draw Ian and Eric to the place each week. Ian is contributing a good deal towards managing the gardening project, including planning, budgeting and maintaining a spreadsheet. We hope that our combined efforts, skills and enthusiasm will soon be producing a colourful glut of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.

Tim, Bridget’s husband, said he enjoys being with his wife in the garden and also helping other people to enjoy themselves. “It’s such a nice day out”, he said. Tim’s helpfully made us several ‘wigwam’ frames to train our peas & beans up to maximise our harvest in due course.

When asked what the group would like to see done with our produce in due course, unsurprisingly the first reaction was “I’d like to see it eaten!”  Ask a silly question …  Other suggestions were to use some of the produce to fund YPWD activities - for example, by selling vegetable boxes to the local pub, trading seeds for crops and donating produce to YPWD cooking groups. We also traditionally share some vegetables & flowers with the group – and very well-deserved too after all their efforts put into growing them!  Another inspirational suggestion was to hold our very own Bake-Off – after all, the other one takes place just up the road!  Lots of ‘food for thought’ for our small enterprise – which we decided some time ago to name Raggedy Roots.

The humour continued when we asked if there were any improvements we could make to the overall experience when Eric declared it would be a bonus to train us to be a barista … or at the very least to install a coffee machine in the shed!  Other suggestions were to gather more ideas and resources for craftwork activities for when the heavens open and we need to shelter indoors out of the rain.,

For my own part, it is a privilege to be among our fellow gardeners in this enchanting place –  in harmony both with nature and with one another.