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Learn the Recipe for Soil Health

Soil, the backbone to any garden and the key ingredient that will either help or hinder your chances of achieving crop after bumper crop of flowers and vegetables. Fresh from his travels in America researching pioneering and innovative ideas surrounding soil management, Joshua Sparkes, the new head gardener at Forde Abbey will be sharing his recipe for home made compost at our Harvest Festival in September, something that will not only reduce pests and diseases but will also promote plant health. Join him in the demo tipi on the 15th and 16th September and you’ll also learn the art of making compost tea, a delicious drink your soil will most certainly thank you for.

Fresh from his travels in Japan, and bringing with him a wealth of experience from his time gardening at Sissinghurst, Josh has spent the past few years exploring different ways of working in the garden, travelling to a wealth of countries, including America to study dynamic working practices and the future of sustainable gardening.

Josh Sparkes, Forde Abbey’s new head gardener

Keen to evolve the tradition of historic practices in British horticulture, Josh has taken the lead from America which is pushing forward ideas of sustainability and ecology within gardens:

“ I always wanted to see if there’s a way of taking the beauty that is the British garden and integrating it with an American forward thinking attitude. So I went to America and worked there for just over four months, working in gardens like Chantecler, Longwood, Mt Cuba and New York Gardens, looking at soil, compost, design and their approach to naturalistic planting.

From there I went to Japan, where I spent five months studying what it is on an emotional level that gardens are. To me, the most important factor in a garden is how it moves you. The ecology of the plants, the sustainability is just a tool to achieve that. So in Japan, I just embedded myself in that philosophy, which was beautiful.”

Returning to England, Josh then worked at Stourhead, Mount Stewart, Hidcote and Bodnant in Wales, visiting experts like Charles Dowding, and Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter, looking at how British horticulture is evolving and how to implement the American and Japanese styles of working within that.

In four weeks time, Josh will be off again, having won a coveted Winston Churchill fellowship which funds travels overseas to explore news ideas and global insights to inspire community and professions back home. Returning to America, Josh will be looking at organic agriculture and horticulture, and ideas surrounding soil management and creating sustainable gardens, before popping over to Sweden to work with Peter Korn, who grows in pure sand, a future possibility for urban planting.

Talks in the Demo Tipi are free to HarvestFest visitors, times TBC

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