A visit to Beyond the Wall

On Saturday I was fortunate to go and visit the walled garden at ‘Beyond the Wall‘ thanks to Phil – @Suffikboi – the head gardener, arranged by Chris – @GlemhamGardener – another Suffolk grown head gardener. Beyond the wall is a charity that has clients with a variety of disabilities that include Autism (which my partners little boy is diagnosed with). The location is ideal for many people with disabilities as it is secluded and quiet which is ideal to help people relax and not be distracted by the usual hustle and noise of a town setting. I found the location during our brief visit to be very peaceful and with trees from the surrounding forest visible it made the space feel part of the larger area.

A walled garden is probably at the top (or very close to) of any gardeners wish list, so having access to such a space is a great opportunity to learn a bit of horticulture (as well as many other offerings). The garden is in what seems a typical setup – divided in two, this one giving a 70/30 split roughly and covering over an acre – probably something like 1.5 acres. The smaller section is setup with some vegetable beds, a polytunnel, summer house and sheds. The larger section is dominated by the orchard which has a large number of fruit trees, some large lean-to greenhouses against the dividing wall and a recently replanted double border.

The Orchard space has borders on the three outer walls – two of which have recently been replanted with a number of roses. The third has some Cherries planted up the wall and amongst others a number of Hydrangea in the border, all edged by Buxus hedging. Some of the Cherry trees were past their best, and one option mentioned was removing those and replacing them with some climbing Hydrangea; which would liven up the space nicely and complement those in the border itself. The hedging is in the process of being trimmed and having its height reduced a bit further to show off the beds a little better. All this work is being carried out by Phil working with the clients and volunteers. I was surprised by two things: first being the sheer number of fruit trees in the space, the other being the recently replanted central borders. The main type of fruit tree was apple – a lot of these had been in the garden for some time and pruned quite hard by a previous gardener, the size before this must have been impressive. Along with the apples there were Quince, Medlar, Mulberry, Cherry and Pear (at least). Along with the grid layout of Apple trees there were a number also planted as Cordon’s creating a hedge along most of two sides of the space separating the wall borders and paths from the larger trees and central borders. I know Phil has some ambitions to replace missing trees and remove at least some of the ageing cordon trees and replace with good new specimens. Sadly this costs money and when working as a charity it is difficult to find funding for some of these projects. The sight of all these fruit trees is impressive and made me want a walled garden of my own (again!), but who doesn’t think that every time they visit one of these?

The other stand out part of the walled garden was the recently (2017) replanted central borders – running a good 40 meters (I would think) and a couple deep. A large portion of the plants were propagated from the existing stock in the garden and others gifted from various places and people. The outstanding factor itself was the budget – achieved for just £60! You just would not think achieving such a result with the density and variety of planting could be done for this. A testament to the resourcefulness and hard work of all those involved. The beds two main colours were Purple from Nepeta and yellow from Achillea along with a few roses, Iris, Geranium and others. The Nepeta spilled out from the bed over the sleepers (recycled from elsewhere in the garden) softening the edge. Walking up the length of the beds you can hear the gentle humming of bees enjoying a feast from these plants in full flower.

The orchard space to either side of the central border (although laid out largely matching) is treated differently. One side the grass is left largely to its own during the year with just a couple of small paths mown through. This is a great idea and encourages various insects into the garden and gives them plenty of pollen sources or places to hide if needs be. I tend to try and leave at least some space in my garden to ‘go wild’ in a similar manor as it quickly fills with wild flowers blown or dropped by birds. The other side is kept mown more closely and at one end has a large marquee setup for outside use and functions when they are on. In this space you also have the large lean-to greenhouses – one with help of a grant has had repairs done to the roof and another has a grant to help repair part of the roof but not enough to complete the work. Fortunately they are usable so the space isn’t lost at this point in time. There is enough space in these greenhouses to be put to several uses. The first is for plant propagation and growing on – this is an important space as it allows a supply of plants to keep the garden looking good, as well as some of the excess being sold to help generate a small income. Another part of the greenhouse space houses a couple of well developed grapes that are full of bunches and will provide some tasty treats no doubt for clients and guests alike. There is a large raised bed in another part which has a small number of tomatoes and cucumbers growing, along with other vegetables the clients get to use these when learning cookery which they then eat for lunch. The remaining space is used partly to hold the tea rooms for visitors to enjoy and some has only recently been cleared ready for use in the near future.

The garden was closed on our visit so there were no clients or visitors around but Phil did give us a few examples of what the clients do and this shows just how horticulture can offer something for everybody. One of the clients who (for a while) it was unclear what would be best for them, had the answer found quite simply. While doing some hoeing this person started to help and immediately found they had the perfect technique for using the hoe smoothly and accurately. Some of the other clients find mowing the lawn to be a perfectly enjoyable task which they set to eagerly. The other memorable mention was for a client who found it particularly enjoyable working with wood. This turned into a regular little job cutting up scrap and spare timber and bundling it into kindling to be sold at the gates. I have no doubt if asked further there would be a number of similar stories were various clients found their niche and with it were able to find both enjoyment and satisfaction in the time spent at Beyond the Wall.

(Photographs below provided by @Suffikboi with thanks)

There are many activities and learning opportunities going on beyond horticulture – I have mentioned cooking with the produce grown on site already. Beyond this there are also classes in Yoga, IT, Art & Crafts as well as walks out in the local area and day trips. Quite a lot available from this one space showing what can be done on the small budgets a charity will run on. I will wrap this up here and mention that if anybody reading this has a few spare plants, tools, maybe some seed or anything else they think might help, then please contact Beyond the Wall. I’m sure this would be gratefully received and help add to the enjoyment and relaxation of the garden for all there.



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