Artist-Gardener-in-Residence at The Grange Projects, Norfolk

The Grange Projects hosts artist-led integrated creative activity at The Grange in Norfolk and is currently home to graphic novelist Dr Nicola Streeten and artist John Plowman.  Located in the small rural village of Great Cressingham, The Grange was originally built as a rectory. The Georgian house and permaculture site is set in 10 acres of tranquil gardens and grounds. 

I’ve been invited to establish an artist-garden, at The Grange, by Nicola & John (after being artist-gardener-in-residence in August, 2023).  Living in London doesn’t afford a home with a garden so I keep an allotment raised-bed, in a local community garden, where frustratingly most of my plants get stolen from this public space.  I now eagerly embark on this journey transforming the walled Herb Garden, in much less antagonistic surroundings, finally realising my own garden vision and you can follow my progress here…

A period of hibernation (Winter 2023)

Sculpture for non-humans?

My next visit won’t be until Spring 2024, so plans for the rest of this year include:

  • Take cuttings + collect/order seeds
  • Research history of herb garden
  • Research herbs to plant next year
  • Make planting plan + timeline of work
  • Apply for funding

Repurposing found objects (August 2023)

I started to gather found objects from around the grounds of The Grange, to potentially use in the garden, mostly materials discarded by other artists after their residencies, harnessing cyclic opportunities that already exist on site (in keeping with permaculture principles).  Played around with placing the objects to see the visual effects this had.  Will be interesting to see where this leads…

A garden for all animate beings (August 2023)

After an attempt to prune the climbing rose over the arch, the mass of dead wood removed has been dispersed around the edges of the garden to create a habitat for wildlife.  As this is a permaculture site, we try as much as possible not to remove waste from the grounds.  Woody branches take too long to break down in the compost so this is a good way to make use of the material.  As the rose was still flowering, I will resume work on my next visit.

Before & after views (first visit, August 2023)

Trying to gain some control of the herb garden (which hasn’t been maintained for several years), cutting back, deadheading, weeding and adding some structure.  I don’t think taming and control will be a big part of my remit but wanted to strip it back so I could see the bones.  Clipped some topiary shapes (in an attempt to undo the symmetry) and started to cloud prune another box shrub (in homage to the 150+ year old box) but doing this with secateurs wasn’t the best move.  Need to buy some topiary shears and will refine at a later date.

Surveying the potential (August 2023)

View from above of the walled Herb Garden (August 2023)

The starting inspiration (August 2023)

This is European box (Buxus sempervirens) situated within the grounds at The Grange, a work of art in itself.  Possibly planted 150+ years ago when the home was built.  It brings to mind Ash Dome, a living sculpture made by the artist David Nash in North Wales (a circle of 22 ash trees that gradually change over time, like the environment around it).  I’m particularly keen to make a connection to this fine specimen in the herb garden and initial ideas include cloud pruning the box already in the garden, exposing stems of the plant to create some interesting negative spaces.