The IEW team had a fascinating visit in early September to the Horticulture area of Sparsholt College. Invited by Grounds Manager Jamie Cryer after our successful GQT event in May, we were keen to see the facilities there for ourselves.  He showed us the tropical house, orchard, beehives, propagation glasshouses, poly-tunnels, outdoor beds overflowing with plants and finally the BBC GQT potting shed and garden. We were impressed not only by the amazingly wide variety of trees, shrubs, flowering plants, (and more types of plants than I can name!) sourced from all around the world but also the meticulous labelling to aid students’ learning.Pear tree

Motivated by food, we found ourselves admiring espaliered apple trees in the GQT garden and then eating windfalls from the Hampshire Collection orchard (soon to become recognised). We saw “no dig” beds in action for growing food and discussed their merits with Jamie.  A bed of tall colourful flowers grown for the benefit of bees and other insects wowed us all. We found ourselves stroking succulents, discussing integrated pest management, and just exploring.

Apples

All the time, we were picking up ideas of what we can grow in the planters at the station and particularly how we can encourage more people in Winchester to grow their own food plants. We will present our ideas to all the IEW members at our social event in October. We hope you can join us and share your ideas.