On Friday February 23rd our Year 7 nurture students set off for an afternoon in Kingston Lacy, an elegant country mansion set on a stunning estate in the heart of Dorset. Kingston Lacy was once the home of Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII) as well as the Bankes family. The aim of the trip was to gain some inspiration from the extensive gardens in Kingston Lacy for our own school garden.
We hoped that an early Spring visit to the kitchen garden at Kingston Lacy and a tour by Steve, one of the very knowledgeable gardeners, would best equip students before embarking on the challenging task of starting a garden. We couldn't have picked a better day, we noticed the bright blue skies as soon as we got off the bus and the sun shone brightly as we toured the grounds. The students were totally enthralled by Steve's tour of the estate. Highlights included standing under the great Cedar Tree planted by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, marvelling at the Egyptian Obelisk which took fifteen years to arrive from North Africa and quiet contemplation by the 'Garden of the Rising Sun' Japanese gardens. We also enjoyed the seasonal highlights; in particular, the snowdrops at the fernery were a sight to behold!
Steve led the way to the kitchen garden where we saw first-hand the great skill and effort it takes to run a garden that provides food for the table. The students were certainly inspired by the kitchen garden and we decided that potatoes, onions and broad beans are definitely on our list of additions to our garden. It was easy to believe that at one time the kitchen garden at Kingston Lacy was second only to Kew Gardens.
After a nice lunch on the picnic benches we explored the orchards and even spotted a few pheasants before embarking on a quest to find the biggest and oldest trees on the grounds.
We were very grateful to Steve for giving us so many great tips; we hope to plant an apple or cherry tree or two as well as some lavender to attract the bees so we have a successful garden.
The visit has got us so excited to start on our own garden and as we passed through the beautiful village of Shapwick on the way home we mused that being outside in a garden is really the greatest therapy on Earth!