Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Holt Farm Organic Garden, Yeo Valley visit

On Friday last week I had a day out ( a VERY long day out, but more of that, later!)

I was lucky enough to win two tickets in a givaway, from Lucy over at The Smallest Smallholding. I won tickets to a wonderful talk by Jekka McVicar all about herbs, at  The Organic Gardens at Holt Farm ( the home of the Mead family, who own Yeo Valley Dairies). This excellent event was last in a series of talks and tours being organised as a fundraiser for the Horatio Garden Appeal for the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust. (SSIT).

I was going to go with Compostman, but plans went awry as they often do so I travelled down to Blagdon, alone. The journey was uneventful, but rain made it slow.

I arrived ( in the pouring rain!) and saw...this! Loved this planter in the car park!


The walk up to the Tea Room (where the talk was being held) was wonderful, if a bit wet underfoot - it rained solidly for most of the morning.

The gardens were wonderful as well, even in the rain.

Full of quirky little touches which I really loved.

After some welcome coffee and a biscuit, we had the most wonderful talk from Jekka McVicar, Queen of Herbs - how herbs are not just a garnish - she was informative, entertaining, gave us so much information on growing and planting and using herbs , along with anecdotes from her "travels with herbs" and also from her very interesting life - if you ever get the chance to go and listen to Jekka I recommend you do so. I also treated myself to her latest cook book about using herbs,  which was very kindly signed by Jekka.

Another reason I was really pleased to have won this prize was because I got to meet a blogging friend for the first time "in Real Life"  - Sue and her Lovely Hubby  from Our New Life in the Country

Sue and I snapped each other at the same time!

while her LH looks on, wishing he were somewhere else I think!

The food at The Organic Gardens Tea Room was wonderful, so fresh and tasty, just-picked ingredients from their veg garden, and meat and dairy from their farms around the valley, with generous portions of salads, fresh bread and butter and either meat or a veggie option. And a glass of wine!

The pudding was pretty delish as well!

We then listened to a short talk about the Horatio Gardens Appeal  and how and why it was formed as an  innovative project to create a place of tranquillity and beauty for patients to enjoy, while being treated for life changing spinal injuries.

And then there was a raffle - I won a bottle of champagne.

beautiful sweet peas in a tin

Some of the Yeo Valley cows going to be milked.

After lunch we had a tour of the fabulous Organic Gardens - James the Head Gardener has my dream job!

As the Yeo Valley website explains
Our organic gardens are one of just a handful of Britain’s gardens to be certified organic. They’re the work of Sarah Mead (wife of Tim) who has spent the last 18 years turning six and a half acres of land into a diverse, seasonal and absolutely beautiful patchwork of ornamental and edible planting areas.

Sarah and her team of gardeners (James, Will, Marc and Eileen) have turned her vision into life, and the gardens are a constantly evolving project as everyone brings more ideas and experiments to the table.

This collection of trained Crab Apples was stunning.

The greenhouse was fabulous

And as for the Composting area - well I could happily have moved in permanently.

So well organised.

James explained how the Organic Gardens are "closed loop" so make all their own potting, seed etc mixes  and compost teas -  he demonstrated how to make seed compost and I was pleased to see I do it the same way .

Looking from the terrace by the tea room over the vegetable area.

A wonderful bed of assorted grasses.

Ornamental flower garden "Bronze Garden" with Reflecting Pool - this was absolutely alive with electric blue Damsel flies.

On past the hay meadow into a woodland walk

Looking across what should be a Wild Flower meadow, but sadly the weather has had an adverse effect on germination so it was apparently not looking at its best.

Still lovely, though!

Then on through a Birch grove planted underfoot with ferns, moving water everywhere, lots of damp loving plants.

and out into a more formal gravel garden. This was very beautiful, with a fabulous pool as a focal point.

Holt Farmhouse

The rear of the farmhouse house looks out over a haha to Blagdon Lake - a wonderful view.

I love looking at other people's gardens  -especially organically managed ones - as you can always get new tips and techniques  or new planting ideas. I came away from this visit full of inspiration.

The journey home was a bit of a nightmare - rain, accidents ( not to me, fortunately!) more rain, diversions, more rain, road closures and finally a flood near to home. But I got home in the end - tired but having had a wonderful day out.

Thank you to Lucy at The Smallest Smallholding.  for such a wonderful giveaway. if you ever get the chance to visit this place I would go!


  1. OMG I am soooo jealous! Of you getting to tour and of those amazing gardens! That compost site has me drooling too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a great place and not too far from my neck of the woods. Must put in my diary...

  3. It does look lovely, will have to pay a visit some day.

  4. I went to the Alys Fowler talk in the same series earlier in the year and had a fab day. I've also visited Horatio's Garden since then, it truly is an inspiring project. Can't wait to see the garden when it's finished!

    And isn't the compost area to die for at Holt Farm?

  5. It was wonderful to meet you, and a lovely day out.

    I just knenw you'd love that wonderful compost area!

    Sue xx


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