Tag Archives: garden

The Garden at Hospitalfield

The renewed walled garden at Hospitalfield, Arbroath. Monks and medicinals. Artists and gentry. Now community art, a great diversity of plants and a welcoming place to relax.

The Living Field’s experience with medicinal plants led to an invitation to talk about the history and present uses of plants for health and healing at the Beer and Berries Festival to be held at Hospitalfield on 21 August 2021.

The old walled garden there has been re-designed and replanted. It’s had a history from 1260 when Hospitalfield was founded, some time after monks from Kelso Abbey in the Scottish Borders travelled north to establish Arbroath Abbey.

Given all this history and the clear success of the new plantings visible on the Hospitalfield web site [1], it was timely to see the garden first hand before sharing knowledge of medicinals.

A great diversity of plants

In late July 2021, the walled garden nurtured hundreds of flowering species (and some yet to flower), some native to the region but many from Mediterranean and even sub-tropical climatic regions – a great range of textures and exotic smells, teeming with bees and other insects.

Some of the original medicinals recorded from the 1200s had been planted, but also notable species from later in the garden’s history. Their story is related, with drawings, in a book by Laura Darling [2] describing the garden’s history, published this year.

Beer and Berries Festival August 2021

The festival of Beer and Berries will be held at Hospitalfield on 21 August 2021. From the web site [3]: “It’s the height of summer and Angus is bursting with fruit and full of grain …

” Beer and Berries is a “regional festival showcase, connecting food and drink producers and suppliers to buyers and customers, set alongside a programme of talks, workshops, events and music.”

Hospitalfield garden is a gem of a place, where art, horticulture and science come together.

Thanks to Laura Mansfield, for the original invitation to contribute to Beer and Berries, Gillian Stirton from the Hutton communications unit for suggesting the Living Field’s input, and Kate Robinson, head gardener, for correspondence on native and introduced medicinal plants in Scotland.

Author / contact: geoff.squire@hutton.ac.uk or geoff.squire@outlook.com

Sources | links

[1] Hospitalfield at https://hospitalfield.org.uk/

[2] Darling, Laura. 2021. In the garden at Hospitalfield. Published by Hospitalfield, Arbroath, Angus.

[3] Beer and Berries Festival, 21 August 2021 – booking essential: https://hospitalfield.org.uk/visit/events/beer-berries-2021/

The Garden at Open Farm Sunday 2017

The Living Field Garden was looking good at Open Farm Sunday on 11 June this year.  Despite wet weather, we had over 1000 visitors.

More on the Open Farm exhibits appears at the Hutton Institute’s LEAF web pages. Here we look at some of this year’s plants.

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Water forget-me-not (top left, then clockwise), elder flower, close up of male flower on a maize plant, and wild yellow iris.

The hedges are thick with leaf, the hawthorn now filling its haws, the elder and the wild rose still in full flower. Water forget-me-not and wild iris are flowering in the wet ditch, while field scabious, comfrey  and viper’s bugloss are offering plenty for the several species of bumble bees that live in and around the garden.

The east garden’s perennial and arable beds

The three local species in the images above all reside in their own habitats, but are within a few seconds of hoverfly flight to the exotic maize in the arable plot. Maize originated as a crop in the Americas and was unknown in the country before the last few hundred years.

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The east garden (top l, down) across the medicinals bed, the vegetable quarter of the arable, across the meadow, just in flower; (top r, down) the potato patch, wild rose and visitor, bumble be on field scabious, through a gap in the hedge, June 2017

This proximity of the wild and the cultivated is one of the recurring features of the garden. The images above contrast the cropped area of the east garden with the perennial meadow and hedge plants. The  field scabious in the meadow will keep the bees well supplied until late September at least.

Raised beds of the west garden

Through the gate, the west garden’s raised beds are filled this year with vegetables and herbs. There are various cabbages and spinaches, parsley, thyme and dill, companion plantings and intercrops, to name a few, and all are intended to show the very different concentrations of minerals that these plants take from the soil and accumulate in their tops.

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Herbs and vegetables (top l down) parsley, across the raised beds to the polytunnel, cabbage; and (top r down) dill umbel unfolding, pea flower and chard leaf, June 2017

The background and results of this study, which is based on research at the Institute, will be covered in a future Living Field post.

Creepy towers

We’ve been constructing various small places for insects and spiders since the garden began, but this year, the idea of a more permanent residents block was made real just before Open Farm Sunday. First stack your pallets, add a roof of turf and fill the spaces with small bespoke homes for our creepy friends.

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Old logs and fence posts, with holes drilled in the ends, pine cones, garden canes, bricks with holes through, tubes, sticks, bits of rotting wood – all make ideal residences.

Exhibits at Open Farm Sunday 11 June 2017

The garden made a return this year as the base for many activities at Open Farm. The cabins hosted exhibits on greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen fixing legumes. The east garden, as you go in through the gate by the cabins, had a soil pit, cereal-legume intercropping, pest traps and the urban bug house shown above, while the west section displayed heathy vegetables, soil bacteria, our friends from Dundee Astronomical Society and Tina Scopa running a workshop on wild plant ‘pressing’.

The garden was maintained by the usual crew: Gladys Wright and Jackie Thompson on the arable plots and raised beds; Paul Heffel from the farm kept the hedges in trim and cultivated the soil where required; Geoff Squire arranged the medicinals and dyes and kept an eye on various rarities and curiosities.

Gill and Lauren Banks, with help from the farm, constructed Creepy Towers, for which the ‘chimney’ was crafted by Dave Roberts and the plaque by visiting student Camille Rousset.

There is no formal funding for maintaining the garden – it happens through commitment and hard work, often out of hours.

Contact for the garden: gladys.wright@hutton.ac.uk