However, the 23 acres of grounds have not always been as beautiful as you see them today. The farmland was in very poor condition; boggy and full of reed beds with a dyke and even the family’s duck & geese pen. It has taken a great deal of hard work, commitment and continued investment to transform it to its current state.
The original gardens were designed by Janet’s late Mother Maggie, her Uncle John and a local landscape gardener – David Singleton. The land had to be mole ploughed and drained, then beautiful lawns were created, along with a large rockery and a central pond. The borders were filled with perennial shrubs and young saplings such as chestnuts, acers, hornbeams and birch. However, within the development the two alder trees at the bottom of the garden were left to mature and now stand over 30 ft high. Robert Lowe, Head Gardener has worked on the gardens from the early days and has seen a great deal of investment and expansion over the years. New planting and projects are carefully thought out each year to attract a variety of wildlife, birds, insects etc. The creation of a number of ponds have provided a haven for newts, toads, frogs, and a variety of fish – carp, tench, chub etc. as well as nesting birds including coots, water hens and even the odd pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers.
Today Grace and Ann, our resident florists still incorporate some of Maggie’s favourite flowers into their displays. Particularly sweet peas, which are grown in abundance during the summer.
The Kitchen Gardens at Gibbon Bridge
Gibbon Bridge boasts it’s own kitchen garden, greenhouses and poly tunnels where an abundance of seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables provide the chefs and baker with fresh produce. Traditional vegetables such as cauliflowers, carrots, beans, brussel sprouts and courgettes are grown along with garlic and endless varieties of herbs from parsley to lemon grass.
The fresh produce plays a vital role in the menus at the hotel and each year Janet, along with Head Chef – Gary and Head Gardner – Robert discuss and plan what fresh produce should be grown. Each morning the seasonal fruits and vegetables are picked and used in dishes and menus on a daily basis.
“It is a real joy to cook with such fresh produce. It makes a difference to our customers to know that everything is so seasonal and fresh on their plates.”