Sue’s been running one half of the walled garden at Langham Hall in Suffolk for a few years focusing on ornamentals and the Alpine Campanula national collection.
When the opportunity to take on the kitchen garden side came along in the summer of 2016, she persuaded me to chuck in the full time job that paid the mortgage and join her to run all 3.5 acres of walled garden.
Totally aware of the need for a solid and detailed business plan before jeopardising house and home, we promptly began to sketch out vague notions of how we might earn a living from the garden on scraps of paper, usually over a few beers. The results weren’t overly encouraging so predictably, we carried on regardless.
Six months on and I’ve left full time employment (with a cop out of doing the odd day’s consultancy to help pay the bills) and we’re now getting stuck into the garden.
It needs to be said that my horticultural knowledge is limited to knowing that when you plant something the green bit stays above the ground.
Whilst Sue has managed to tame parts of the garden over the years, about half of it (mainly the kitchen side) comprises about 2 acres of bindweed, sorrel, dandelions, nettles and ground elder, some of which is partly controlled by the herds of rabbits that we also share the garden with. We’re not sure whether they’re migrants coming in through leaky gates from outside the wall or an expat community that has set up home in hidden burrows in the shrubberies. Either way, they’ve already chewed some of the newly planted raspberry canes so a solution of increased border security and expulsion is required; a sort of UKIP approach to pest control.
Into the new year full of optimism (and streaming colds) and plans to bring round the two acres ofkitchen garden, which have been neglected for a year or so in between tenants. Simon leaving his job has been a tough decision to reach, waving bye bye to financial security sounds crazy.
Yet Bellflower Nursery is well established in the walled garden and it is a great, if indulgent, base for my garden design business, so with the bonus of space to grow edible crops, we are able to add to our range and hopefully encourage more visitors to the garden.
Hopefully working together won’t cause too many fallouts or vying for post of head gardener. With three-and-a-half acres of garden to cultivate, surely that’s ample space to lose ourselves and certainly we won’t have the energy to squabble. Plus we both like a challenge…
To contact Sue and Simon, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07879644958
Bellflower Nursery, The Walled Garden, Langham Hall, Langham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP31 3EE