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 my own artist-garden, at The Grange, by Nicola & John (after being artist-gardener-in-residence there this summer). Living in London doesn’t afford a home with a garden, although I do keep an allotment raised-bed, in a local community garden, which does give some access to growing. Frustratingly, most of my plants get stolen from this public space, resulting in quite the hostile gardening experience! In less antagonistic surroundings in Norfolk, you can follow my journey here, transforming the walled Herb Garden and finally realising my own garden vision (starting August 2023)…
My next visit probably won’t be until late winter/early spring 2024 (unless funding is secured before then) 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
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. Played around with placing the objects to see the visual effects this had. Will be interesting to see where this leads…
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.
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.
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.