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Rangeford gets its Green Fingers out - We have a sit down chat with our Head Gardener, Chris Liversidge

26/03/2024 Wadswick Green, Siddington Park, Homewood Grove, General, Case Study

With spring in full swing, the gardens of our villages are a stunning sight to behold. We had a sit-down with our amazing landscape gardener, Chris Liversidge of The Garden Business in Wiltshire, to speak to us about all the happenings for the flowers and plants that call our villages home.

Tell us about what you have been working on / your plans for the gardens at Rangeford Villages?

“Over the winter, we have been busy creating our project work for the gardens at Siddington Park, Wadswick Green, and Homewood Grove. At Siddington Park, we have recently created the Bark Park, which is a fantastic dog agility area for the residents to enjoy exercising with their pets. It has lots of covered areas and is made from recycled materials, and it's accessible all year round. We’ve also created the woodland walks. We’ve been busy planting 21,000 bulbs at Siddington Park, with ornamentals and woodland bulbs like bluebells, and we’ve done similar work at Wadswick Green. It’s an exciting time as we wait for the spring bonanza of bulbs to come into full bloom.”

You’re always planning ahead – anything new that you’ve introduced or in the pipeline?

“We’ve recently installed a temporary tree nursery at Siddington Park with over 70 species of trees; it’s the first of its kind in the UK.

At Wadswick Green, we’ve installed 100 metres of pinot noir grape vines. We thought it might be fun to try to produce some wine and get the residents involved in the wine-making process.”

What are the key considerations when designing a garden that will appeal to the over 60’s residents?

“It's a well-known fact that there are many health benefits to getting outside and interacting with nature, particularly in later years, and so all our gardens are designed with this in mind. We want to entice the residents outside. Take Siddington Park’s tree nursery, for example. We’ve installed a number of swing seats so that residents can not only observe the trees as they grow and flourish but also enjoy being among them.

We are also creating lots of sanctuaries of relaxation in all our gardens, little areas with sensual plants, as well as plants known for their natural healing properties, such as chamomile and nettle.”

How important is it to create flexible space in the outdoor area for residents?

“It’s really important; we’ve created lots of multi-surface areas at Siddington Park and plan to do the same at Homewood Grove, which can be used for playing badminton or Zumba or equally for holding events like an artisan market or an outdoor cinema.”

There’s lots of research to support that staying active in later years has many health benefits, has this been a consideration when designing the gardens?

“Creating lots of areas for residents to exercise and be active is a really important part of our planning for our outdoor spaces. We’ve installed lots of age-appropriate outdoor apparatus, car valet areas where residents can take the car to be cleaned, as well as outdoor communal barbeque areas where residents can gather and socialise with each other or to entertain family and friends."

The kitchen gardens at Wadswick Green are thriving. How are you planning ahead for the kitchen gardens at Siddington Park and Homewood Grove?

"The kitchen gardens at Wadswick Green have been a great source of vegetables and herbs that are typically more expensive to buy for The Greenhouse restaurant. For example, we supply an abundance of heirloom tomatoes, new potatoes, asparagus, and huge leaf basil. We are looking to grow similar produce at Siddington Park and Homewood Grove.

We’ve just planted a huge herb bed at Siddington Park, which will hopefully mean that The Orangery restaurant won’t have to buy any herbs for the restaurant in the future.

The vegetable truck at Wadswick Green has also been popular with residents. In the summer, we offer all the vegetables free of charge to the residents in return for a small donation. Last year, all the proceeds went to a Parkinson's disease charity."

Wadswick Green has an active Gardening Club, tell us about that?

“The Gardening Club is aimed at our green-fingered residents and those who simply fancy having a go. They meet once a month, and our gardening team is on hand to help out with advice, tools, and equipment to enable them to grow their own plants for window boxes, and they do their potting in the polytunnels. The group has really taken off, and the members also organise days out and visits to local gardens.

I also hold regular talks for the residents about the gardens with information about how we nurture our ecosystem, for example, by using recycled pots, harvesting rainwater, and peat-free compost.

The talks have proved really popular, and we are hoping to do more across all villages in the future."

How important is it to develop partnerships with the local community?

“We encourage locals to come and visit the gardens. At Wadswick Green, we have lots of people who like to come and look around and enjoy the stunning setting. The gardens look particularly pretty in the spring and summer months.

At Homewood Grove, we are sponsoring the planters outside the local St. Peters Hospital, and we will be changing them seasonally to match the gardens at Homewood Grove.”

And finally, what gives you the most satisfaction about working on the gardens at Rangeford?

“I think it’s when you get residents approaching you to introduce themselves and to thank you for all your work. We’ve had lots of residents tell us that one of the reasons they chose to buy a property in the village was because of the gardens and outdoor spaces. That’s a really lovely compliment to know we are bringing the residents pleasure, and it makes all our work worthwhile.”

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