As we reported in March the clearing phase which has been carried out by the gardening volunteers, Grove Academy students and staff, and Horticap students and staff has now finished. 22 Volunteers have put in over 250 hours of gardening time in addition to the hours by Grove Academy and Horticap. The Valley Gardens’ permanent staff has helped us to remove 18 trailer loads of material for composting, leaving the garden in much better condition and ready to move forward with the restoration.
Upper Entrance before clearing
Upper Entrance after clearing
Students have been involved in pruning shrubs into shape, potting up the ground cover and perennial plants we want to save, and even digging out a large clump of bamboo which was in the way of the new path to the lower bridge.
We have enjoyed taking stock of wildlife in the garden but not always had the time to photograph them. We did catch a Comma butterfly.
We have taken care of the frogspawn so that the tadpoles will have a better habitat in which to develop this year away from the machinery, spotted a pair of bullfinch and been serenaded by robins as they claim their territory.
Our designer Graham Harman and his team from the Japanese Garden Society have chosen the rocks for the new features from a York stone quarry on the edge of Huddersfield, and will start the installation later in May.
Designer Graham Harman and Project Co-Leader Ann Beeby
The arrival of the main contractors at the end of this month will mean that the site is closed off for some weeks whilst the groundwork is done, the watercourse desilted and reshaped and new paths created.
March 2017 – Volunteer Gardeners Prepare the Way
The weather has generally been kind to the volunteer gardeners and the results of their weekly labours of love in managing the trees and shrubs are beginning to give us an idea of the shape of the restored garden.
The tools we bought have already been put to good use. We have been very busy pruning out dead and damaged woody material, and local tree contractors helped by removing dead and overcrowded trees, so opening up the tree canopy, views and the way for the paths. We were excited to uncover the base of one of the original Japanese lanterns in the Garden, which you can see in the photo below.
Some shrubs, which are not characteristic of Japanese gardens, have been re-located elsewhere in the Valley Gardens, to prepare the way for new planting starting later in the year.
Horticap have helped us tackle some large clumps of bamboo which we needed to cut down to make way for paths; other bamboo clumps we have thinned to create the feel of being able to ‘look through’ to the garden beyond.
Grove Academy student Tom, with his supervisor Pauline, have pruned the holly and Berberis into shape as you enter the garden, and now you can see glimpses of the reflection of the café in the boating pool, and the beautiful shape of the bark on the nearby dawn redwood tree.
A little more gardening to do up to Easter and then it is the Contractor’s turn…..
February 2017 - Cloud Pruning of Juniper
Specialist pruners Steve and Jo from the North West branch of the Japanese Garden Society have paid their first visit to our garden to work their magic on a mature Juniper which was threatened with the chop. Click on the photo below to see a video of their work and the final results. Shall we keep it?
January 2017 - Japanese Garden Project Launch
On Tuesday January 17th the Japanese Garden Project was officially launched in the presence of the Mayor, a representative from Heritage Lottery, and volunteers from all the groups represented, a grand total of 59 people.
It was a very happy affair with plenty of opportunity for different groups to interact and the weather stayed dry, which was a bonus. Adrian Murray took some excellent photographs, and we got a good report in the Harrogate Advertiser, with one of the photos showing the whole crowd. Sue Mendus, from Heritage Lottery thanked us for an excellent event which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Our first ‘spend’ from the grant money was for tools to be used by our gardening volunteers and students from Grove Academy. The shiny new stainless steel spade was duly plunged into the soil by the Mayor, Cllr Nic Brown, who was wreathed in smiles, to declare that work can now officially start.
Since then we have had a good turnout for gardening each Tuesday and have made great progress with pruning out dead and overgrown shrubs from the woodland and clearing areas where paths are planned to be.
The administrative work necessary for contractors to be appointed etc is on track, so I am delighted to say that we are definitely underway.
December 2016 - Just in Time for Christmas, A Heritage Lottery Award for the Japanese Garden Restoration
Well we have done it, almost a year to the day I first registered with HLF in Leeds, we have today received official permission to start our project.
Early in the New Year a partnership agreement for the duration of the project will be finalised with Harrogate Borough Council who are working with us to deliver the restoration of the Japanese Garden.
There will be regular bulletins on this page about our progress, the planned community activities, and opportunities to volunteer.
We can all look forward to an exciting year ahead, during which the main part of the construction should be completed.
So Watch This Space…………………………………………………!
October 2016 - Autumn Colours and Shrub Planting Plans
This watercourse area is where we have a lot of work to do, you can see how it is entirely silted up and growing a good crop of buttercups, hopefully by this time next year we can show a very different picture.
And finally for this month a picture of the beautiful golden bamboo, Phyllostachys Aurea, which will be a feature of the new entrance arch at the southern end of the garden. This variety grows up to 10m high in the right conditions, and is a clump forming variety and so easier to maintain.
July 2016 in the Japanese Garden
Everything is growing up now in the garden and the watercourse is completely concealed by tall planting which has taken over. The hazel is looking a good colour and the trees are in full leaf. We have managed to commence control of the invasive Skunk Cabbage which is a bonus, but as you can see there is now no water at all in the ponded area. The frogs did manage to lay some frog spawn earlier in the year, but despite what we feel has been a wet season, there is nothing to show as the silt has filled the area completely.
The project is moving forward slowly although it must appear that nothing is happening. The plans are finalized, the consultation process is complete and has been a positive exercise with many people getting involved and some good new contacts made.
We are getting costings now from contractors and finalizing our partnership with Harrogate Borough Council. They will need to complete a partnership agreement before we can submit an application to Heritage Lottery which we now hope to do in September.
We would be delighted to meet any of you who are interested in becoming involved with this project either individually or as a group. We are happy to come and talk about it to groups, so do get in touch.
Horticap have agreed to help us to tidy up the woodland area during the winter when they are not so busy with regular clients.
There are several school projects associated with the restoration. Grove Academy Horticulture Department is going to be involved throughout the project and have expressed interest in assisting with the future maintenance of the garden which is great.
A recent talk to Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Group should result in some paintings for their Autumn Exhibition at Ripley in late November which will reference the garden and the new design with the artist’s vision of the project.
We have agreed with Rossett School that they are going to assist with the layout and graphics for the creation of information panels for when the garden is completed, and they will also design publicity leaflets for distribution around Harrogate.
Harrogate High School are very interested in our Project and plan to include modules on Japanese Art and Culture for the Art GCSE students with a workshop sponsored by the project to give the inspiration.
We would also like to plan something for the infant and Junior age group but this has yet to be agreed.
Our links with the Japanese Garden Society are strengthening and we hope for a long association with them and to be able to learn from their expertise.
So a very positive situation, but this is all dependent on getting a grant from Heritage Lottery, so wish us luck.
May 2nd – 9th 2016
Consultation on the draft plan for restoration of the Japanese Garden at St Peter’s pending a Heritage Lottery Application this year.
The Japanese Garden group from the Friends set up an exhibition in St Peter’s Church foyer as part of the Consultation which is being carried out online by Harrogate District Council our partners in this venture, we had good volunteer support to enable us to staff the exhibition from 10.00am -5.00pm every day, so thank you everyone for your help.
The Japanese Shop lent a bright red kimono and a mannequin, and a bright parasol.
Provided we can get all the permissions and agreement with HBC together with full costing of the plan we hope to get the application in by September, which if we are successful at the first attempt will enable us to start the work on the watercourse and woodland during the winter months.
A big part of this application is the Community involvement and I will talk about that in a future blog. Meanwhile I attach a summary from the report of our week which was extremely positive.
Report of comments recorded ‘in situ’
254 visitors came to see the display over the whole period. Most were local to Harrogate and District with some from the Leeds City Region and a few from other parts of the country and abroad e.g. USA. One person designed Japanese gardens in New Zealand. Some came from the groups we have already involved e.g. Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club, Grove Academy. The majority of people were not aware that there was a Japanese Garden in the Valley Gardens.
“When I was a child I remember that children were not allowed in the Japanese Garden, when I did eventually get there it was rather a disappointment” she went on to say that we should be doing something better now as people’s expectations are greater.
The overall response was extremely positive with 99% supportive of the proposed plan. Of the one or two exceptions, one lady did want any change to the Valley Gardens and another wanted English garden plants. The large majority of people thought it was interesting, exciting and would look both distinctive and lovely, moving forward a garden which was becoming more ordinary. They felt that it was good to have a specific use for that space and it should attract visitors.
‘So nice to have something good happening in Harrogate’
People also said it would be peaceful and that Harrogate needed a calm place amidst the stress. They were impressed with and welcomed the community involvement. A number of very useful comments for the design, activities and contacts were made. Many people had personal connections with Japan or had visited the country and one or two involved with garden design or other horticultural aspects. Just one lady believed that Harrogate Gardens should all reflect ‘English plants’ and local views.
People asked about when the project would start and how it would be funded. It was emphasised that it would be funded externally, not by the council, and that we were going to try and get heritage lottery funding. .