Saturday 14 April 2012

Edible Gardening by Alys Fowler at the Yeo Valley Organic Gardens

Wow...what a day.   Thanks to Lucy at The Smallest Smallholding (and my lovely picture of Maud, Martha and Betty in front of our henhouses that won me the prize), we spent yesterday listening to a talk by my gardening hero Alys Fowler and touring the wonderful organic gardens at Yeo Valley.

Arriving at 10ish to find Alys already there bright and early to welcome us on the veranda of the lovely Tea Room, you could tell straight away this was going to be a good day.  Steaming coffee in hand thrown mugs with homemade shortbread biscuits set the scene, I took a shot of Lovely Hubby drinking in the view as well as the coffee. 

We sat down to the talk after half an hour of relaxing in the early morning sunshine and it was really good, brilliantly so, with photos from her books and her visit to Norway where she met a like minded soul who turned into a good friend, you could relax into Alys' way of talking and take on board the tips.   A few voices called out for her to name again plants that she recommended and she happily obliged, we were told to nibble at our flowers, to grow all we wanted to eat and to, on occasion throw the rule book out of the window (something I did years ago, I'm sure it landed in the compost pile and is back somewhere in my food chain).

She answered question after question and when it became apparent that there were to be lots of questions we broke again for a mug of coffee and to stretch our legs and make use of the facilities.....

... and where else would the ladies loos have pictures of Charles and Camilla watching you as you washed your hands, Charlie Dimmock peering at you from the ceiling as you sat on the loo.

Lots to read as you dried your hands, after washing them in the .....

... charming rustic earthenware bowl sinks.  Yes, I photographed the Ladies!!  A dedicated Blogger.

After another half an hour of questions and answers, we wandered briefly on the patio area to stretch our legs and get some fresh air while the lovely lunch was brought to the tables.  Roast chicken for the carnivores and Spinach and Ricotta Filo Pie for the veggies, with multi-coloured Tomato Salad and a huge bowls of Mixed Leaves, served with buttered New Potatoes and chunky slices of homemade bread.  All washed down with a glass or two of wine and carafes of water.  And then... a wonderfully creamy dessert topped with raspberry coulis and accompanied by chunky shortbread.  Absolutely gorgeous. 

Guess who we sat next to at lunch.....yes, you got it in one, with Alys next to me and Sarah (who owns the farm) opposite us next to Hubby, we chatted over gardening, foxes, hens, growing veggies, Pugs and Jack Russells we have both, Alice has Isabel the Jack Russell and Sarah has Mabel the Pug, and the amazing coincidence that Alys actually grew up in the area we now live in.  Everyone there was chatty and friendly and it was definitely the sort of place that you could go to alone and come away feeling that you had had a wonderful time.

And then after a brief talk about the reason we were there, to raise funds and awareness of Horatios Garden and the SSIT, it was time for the raffle, and guess what, the happy Gods were looking down on us (well maybe that and the fact that we bought lots of tickets to support this wonderful charity) and we won an Emma Bridgewater mug commemorating Horatio's Garden, the next ticket to be drawn was also ours but we asked for it to be drawn again. 

Then it was time for the guided tour of the organic gardens, the only certified organic ornamental gardens in the country and the story behind them.

We wandered the paths looking at planting ideas and wonderful arrangements,

We all marvelled at the ornamental scultures that are dotted around the place, from lovely copper water features...

... to the handles on the greenhouse being in the rather spectacular form of lizards.

Although the planting was the absolute antithisis of what Alys had inspired us to do, she complimented them on the beauty of the beds.

Wandering through the private gardens we came upon lots of wonderful pieces of artwork, here a metal kite flies tethered to a giant garden fork looking out forever over the Yeo River.

After the garden tour it was back to the tearoom to sample yet more coffee,. this time served with homemade sponge cake, sandwiched together with fresh strawberries and cream.  A lovely end to a lovely day.

Sorry if you would have liked more photos of our heroine Alys, but I am of the opinion that 'celebrities' are really just like us, and the ones that come across as normal and do not court 'celebrity' deserve their privacy.   Would you like a camera in your face at any and every opportunity, so she was only snapped if she happened to be in my line of fire.  She was however, for those of you who have not had the pleasure, perfectly normal and down to earth, and exactly as she comes across on the television........ and absolutely beautiful.

Thank you to everyone who made it so spectacular a day.

Sue xx


  1. What an unforgetable day for you and OH! So deserved.

    So glad you won as you will have cherished every moment.

    Totally understand what you mean about Alys too.

    Sft x

  2. Fantastic blog, I felt as if I were there xxxxxx

  3. Oh how I envy you, such a wonderful day. I always thought that Alys was my kind of gardener and I really enjoyed her programmes on TV. NIce to have my impression verified.

  4. Never heard of Miss Alys but judging by your pics.. she knows how to garden!
    Jane x

  5. So much delicious sounding food! It looks as if you had a wonderful day. Maybe one day I will get to listen to Alys talk.

  6. What a wonderful day and YOU so deserved it !

  7. Glad you had such a wonderful time Sue

  8. What an absolutely wonderful post! So glad you had such an enjoyable day - you deserve a bit of pampering. I love Alys too - she's so down to earth and I really enjoyed her last series. Thanks for sharing your day x

  9. How interesting, I hadn't heard of her, her books would be interesting - the library calls!

  10. So glad you had such a lovely treat! It looked like a really lovely day.

    I agree with you about snapping celebs - I have met Alys at a Master Composter event at Ryton and she was lovely - very down to earth and natural


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