by Liz Turner (my beautiful mum)
What a wonderful cheery welcome we received from Jo as Vix and I arrived at Jo’s very beautiful home and garden for a class run by the Harrogate Garden & Flower School – aka Jo Banks.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this lovely lady, Jo’s website gives a real insight into her life and career in horticulture and lists what classes and workshops are available from her First things first, we were offered a variety of refreshments and accepted a glass of delicious cool crisp white wine whilst introductions were being made. There were eight of us for the evening and surprisingly everyone (apart from me) seemed to be under the age of 35 and very keen to learn. This is really refreshing for me to see as gardening is often perceived to be an ‘older person’s past time’. I’ve been gardening since I was a young girl, inspired by my grandpa and my dad so I suppose it stands to reason there are others out there inspired by their relatives too.
Jo has a really laid back, informal approach to teaching and the class felt more like a gathering of friends than a formal learning group. There was much laughter interspersed with the sincerity of wanting to learn about all things gardening (rather than ‘horticulture’). It seemed to me to be more about learning the basics through hands on experience, trial and error and a lot of fun thrown into the mix, rather than having to learn hard core theory for working towards exams.
The theme for today’s class was a ‘Gardener’s Question Time’ and we all had many questions to ask Jo who provided the appropriate advice. We then had a tea break with delicious cake followed by a wander around her beautiful garden. The garden is divided into three sections, patio entertaining area, lawns and herbaceous borders with stunning planting combinations and a very lovely kitchen/productive garden with fruit trees, fruit bushes, salad crops and many varieties of vegetables. The garden offers a selection of seating areas with a couple of summerhouses to shelter from the inevitable breezy /mizzley weather we get from time to time in Harrogate.
After our break we then considered jobs for the month ahead which I found particularly useful despite being a seasoned gardener myself.
Jo talked about the class schedule ahead for talks and visits, one of which is a trip to RHS Chelsea Flower Show next May. There is to be a talk by a calligrapher (useful for plant labelling) and a visit to a local cut flower grower.
Two hours had flown by and what an enjoyable two hours it had been. I left feeling inspired, motivated and just a little sad that the class had come to an end. I wanted more.
For more information on the Harrogate Garden & Flower School, and for a full list of courses, contact Jo via her website www.jobanksflowers.co.uk