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How does your garden grow?

[Wednesday 19 September 2007]
ydnpa garden project
Dales garden project

OVER thousands of years, plants have been gathered, introduced and domesticated for food, medicine, clothing, money and decoration. How to grow and use the plants that work best in the Yorkshire Dales has been handed down from generation to generation and now these memories are coming together in a new project - before the knowledge is lost, people are being asked to pass it on so others can learn from them.

From 22 to 23 September six venues - Malham, Aysgarth Falls and Reeth National Park Centres, together with the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, St. John's Centre in Catterick Garrison and Richmondshire Museum in Richmond - will be hosting displays and encouraging people to share their memories of gardening, plants and their uses, preserving the traditions connected with them for the future.

The garden memories project owes its beginnings to the 'Seed to Sheep' scheme currently running at the Richmondshire Museum and funded by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund.

The scheme has since developed into a series of garden related activities run by other organisations in the Dales area.

The St John's Centre at Catterick Garrison - a day centre for elderly people and people with disabilities - has recently held a garden open day and display of residents' memories about growing and using plants.

This garden is part of a plan to support people to maintain their independence in the community. The kitchen is already using the produce that the residents have grown and activities such as watering and simply being out in fresh air are helping with mobility and giving people a lot of pleasure.

Swaledale-based organisation Just the Job, has built a raised bed for residents to grow their own salad materials and raise young plants.

At the Dales Countryside Museum, Volunteer Sally Reckert who has worked as head gardener in several historic properties, researching plants and techniques appropriate to the ages of those properties, has been working with other volunteers to create new garden areas. The design of these will be informed by plant traditions and the memories gathered through the project, focusing on the period 1900-1960.

Many people are probably gardening as their grandparents did, especially those in remote areas

Sally Reckert - Dales garden project

"I chose the dates 1900-1960 because small gardens don't usually follow fashion. Many people are probably gardening as their grandparents did, especially those in remote areas, where self-sufficient subsistence is still a necessity. My end-date, 1960, is perhaps a little arbitrary, but for me it marks the beginning of consumerism in gardening - the plastic flowerpot had arrived", says Sally Reckert.

The garden project will be a long-term one, a gradual building up of day-to-day, practical plant knowledge in the northern dales that can be archived for use by all users of the Museum.

A collage - first begun in autumn 2006 by Year 4 children from St Mary's School, Richmond who helped to design the 'colour garden' at the Richmondshire Museum - is also being produced, with each group that participates in one of the 'gardening' workshops, adding their own pieces.

For further information, please contact Fiona Rosher, Dales Countryside Museum Manager, on 01969 666219.

  • Call in at any of the six venues listed above between 10am and 5pm this weekend or fill in one of the leaflets available every day from the Dales Countryside Museum to add your memories - and to contribute to the creation of gardens using plants remembered by local people.

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