Meet The Gardeners

Symondsbury Estate Vegetable Garden

Mel Webb

I’ve been working for Symondsbury Estate now for six years. I was first employed to help look after all eight holiday cottage gardens as well as the Colfox family’s own garden but as the business has expanded, so has my role!

As head gardener I’ve helped design and plant all the areas around our cafe, shops and The Tithe Barn using our own home-propagated plants as much as possible.

I really enjoyed creating and designing the Tithe Barn garden which is hired out with the Barn for weddings and other events throughout the year so it’s important to create an all round show of colour for all the seasons.

We’re in the process of developing other areas here such as a new “glamping” area where we’ve put in a wildlife friendly hedge, various fruit trees and banks of wild flowers. We collect our own seed and this year we’re selling some of our home grown plants outside our Home & Garden shop.

Both Kate and me are very environmentally aware and are increasingly using our own home made compost which is helped along by using all the shredded paper from the offices, cardboard from Symondsbury Kitchen together with green waste and grass clippings from the garden. Our three large composting boxes are being well managed and production is going very well. It’s a case of what you put in, you get out!

Pete and Matt work with us part time and help to keep all the grass mown, the hedges trimmed and contribute greatly to keeping everything looking tidy but not too manicured.

Kate Millburn

I’ve been working here at Symondsbury Estate for the last 3 years initially helping Mel with all the Estate gardens, but since 2016 have been in charge of managing and running the vegetable garden next to Symondsbury House and the herb garden behind the wall by Barton Cottage. I’ve carefully selected the best salads, herbs, edible flowers and other seasonal vegetables for all year round interest mainly to provide the Café but also the Colfox family and later on this year we plan to provide our food outlet with home grown produce on a weekly basis. Watch this space!

Last year, we bought our third greenhouse to increase the growing capacity of our salads and have successfully managed to grow and supply the Café throughout the year apart from just 3 weeks which is fantastic progress.

Since last year, I’ve adopted and put into practice the “no dig” method of gardening which means you disturb the soil as little as possible and put down masses of mulch to build up a good protective layer on top of the soil, almost completely reducing the need to water except when planting out or sowing direct.

I’m writing this in May and am just waiting for the last chance of a frost before I plant out all the squash and courgette plants from the greenhouse. The beetroot is growing well and our earliest new potatoes will be ready to harvest in June. We’re also growing mangetout, plenty of spinach and chard and a wide variety of salad leaves.

In order to keep a constant supply of salad to the Café we sow the salad leaves regularly throughout the year. Variation is always important so a good mix of all types of leaves is ideal such as chervil and summer purslane both of which add an extra zing to a plate!


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