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Ryton Organic Garden, England


“Ryton is the most unexpected and outstanding organic garden I have ever come across”

John Mason - Principal, Australian Horticultural Correspondence School

Garden Organic (previously Henry Doubleday Research Association) is Europe's largest Organic Gardening Organisation, and Ryton Organic Gardens near Coventry, in the heart of England, is their show piece!

The Henry Doubleday Research Association began in 1954 as a result of the inspiration and initiative of one man, Lawrence Hills. As a horticulturist with a keen interest in organic growing, he set up a charitable research association to improve ways of growing plants organically. (Naming the Association after his pioneering Victorian mentor)

Ryton's philosophy "to garden in harmony with nature" highlights the delight of organic gardening and is set up as an organic demonstration to show the public that it is possible to do without potentially harmful chemicals in their own gardens.

Set on 10 acres of beautiful landscaped grounds, there is something for everyone including gardeners, food lovers, shoppers, children and those simply looking for a relaxing day out.

Consisting of a variety of gardens, a research farm, organic shop, restaurant, conference rooms and offices, Ryton is a virtual mecca for anyone interested in organic gardening, farming, food or natural health.

Different gardens include:

The Rose Garden -

The rose garden contains a wide variety of bush roses and climbing roses, chosen for their resistance to diseases, and planted to increase the diversity of plants and insect life in the garden. The display demonstrates that it is possible to grow roses without pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilisers as the roses have been fed only with well-rotted manure and bonemeal!

The Ryton garden -

This is an organic back garden - one that is both attractive and productive, in a garden setting. Vegetables are grown on a four-year rotation, ornamental plants attract useful insects, the lawn is managed organically and garden waste is recycled through the compost heap. There is even a small patch of comfrey for making liquid feed and for mulching.

The Herb Garden -

The herbs in this garden range from common culinary herbs and medicinal wild plants to exotic pot-pourri herbs.

The No-Dig Garden -

Digging isn't always necessary for growing good crops, in fact not digging can sometimes benefit the soil. This plot has never been dug: it was cleared using weed control mulches such as carpet and cardboard. No-dig gardening relies on natural processes to build up the fertility of the soil - in particular the work of earth worms.

The Wildlife Garden -

The aim of this garden is to create a haven for wildlife. As intensive chemical farming destroys the countryside, private gardens can make an important contribution to conservation. The different habitats encourage creatures to take up residence in the garden and the flowers and shrubs provide them with food.

The Unusual Vegetables Garden -

Not many of these vegetables are sold in the supermarkets but they are certainly worth eating and are not difficult to grow. They are also very versatile and more tolerant to adverse conditions than conventional crops!

The Pest, Weed and Disease Control Garden -

Without the use of poison! Building up a healthy soil and a balanced environment are the organic gardener's most important lines of defense against attacks. However they do still occur. This display shows ways of avoiding them by planting resistant varieties, growing vegetables in rotation, interplanting crops and using physical barriers and traps. The greenhouse shows biological pest control in action and weeds are controlled with mulches.

The HDRA Members' Experiments Garden -

This plot reproduces the small scale trials that members are carrying out in their own gardens! They play an important part in HDRA's experimental work, although their findings are backed up with more detailed scientific trials.

The Special Needs Garden -

Not only does Ryton have facilities for those with a disability - the gardens, shop and restaurant are all fully accessible to wheelchair users - this garden also aims to demonstrate design features and gardening principles for those with a disability. (Visually impaired etc)

Other areas include:

A Composting Display, A Shrub Border Display, A Conservation Area, A Raised Bed Garden, The President's Garden, A Land Clearance Area, A Bee Garden, A Fruit Garden, A Lawn Demonstration Area, The HDRA Seed Library and much more!

There are even displays of organically grown farm animals!

The award-winning restaurant serves organic produce from the gardens including both traditional and vegetarian dishes. The shop sells a wide range of books, organic produce, gardening tools, seeds, natural pest control and other products; as well as gift items - all with a natural or organic flavour.

Ryton's Conference Facilities are superb and offer unique private accommodation for seminars, meetings, events and even weddings. The venue is perfect for any occasion with fine views of the gardens.

The garden is open every day except for the Christmas week.

Admission is free to members of the Royal Horticultural Society (U.K.) or HDRA.

There are great benefits to becoming a member of HDRA!

Membership entitles you to a quarterly magazine packed full of gardening information, free advice, 10% discount off all catalogue goods and unlimited free admission to a number of gardens in both the UK and France.

Contact: Ryton Organic Gardens


Coventry CV8 3LG

Tel + 01203 303517

Fax + 01203 639229

Email [email protected]

For information on Permaculture & Organic courses by correspondence -


The Australian Correspondence Schools

PO Box 2092, Nerang MDC, Qld 4211

Internet http://ww.acs.edu.au

Email [email protected]

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