Tucked away in the pretty North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley, lies a garden that fully embraces the power of nature to heal. Bordered by a country estate and a medieval castle, Helmsley Walled Garden is a tranquil spot to enjoy the landscape, seek inspiration and enjoy the beautiful planting. It is also a centre for horticultural therapy, supporting and developing people with their mental and physical well being through gardening.
After years of neglect and the glasshouses falling into disrepair, the garden has been lovingly restored by a small team. It has an informal, gentle flow and as you meander along the paths you can’t help but relax. Visiting in autumn, the garden takes on a more mellow, muted colour palette but there was still plenty to see and appreciate. The hot border was packed full of late flowering perennials with some spectacular dahlias taking centre stage. In the orchard, trees were weighed down with pears and apples and in the kitchen garden the vegetable patches were abundant with winter greens and giant pumpkins. Heritage apples trained on cordons and step overs were looking particularly impressive and they are picked to sell as juice in the shop.
After a lovely walk round the garden I headed for lunch in the Vine House Cafe. Sitting in the glasshouse under the grapevines made for a cosy spot, charmingly rustic in design, each table with a little posy of flowers cut from the garden. The menu in the cafe is simple with the emphasis on seasonal food and using the produce picked fresh from the garden. I had a Greek inspired lunch of spiced green beans, tomatoes and feta served with homemade pitta bread. It was unbelievably good. On display there is a vintage trestle table set up with delicate little glass bottles and apothecary jars, filled with blooms cut from the borders, each labelled to help with identification.
Helmsley Walled Garden is a very special place indeed and I can’t wait to return in the spring to see how it differs season to season.
Images by Jen Chillingsworth