Ryton: An Outstanding Organic Garden

The Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA) is Europe's largest Organic Gardening Organisation, and Ryton Organic Gardens near Coventry, in the heart of England, is their show piece!

The Henry Doubleday Research Association began in 1954 as a result of the inspiration and initiative of one man, Lawrence Hills. As a horticulturist with a keen interest in organic growing, he set up a charitable research association to improve ways of growing plants organically. (Naming the Association after his pioneering Victorian mentor) Ryton's philosophy "to garden in harmony with nature" highlights the delight of organic gardening and is set up as an organic demonstration to show the public what is possible without potentially harmful chemicals in their own gardens.

Set on 10 acres of beautiful landscaped grounds, there is something for everyone including gardeners, food lovers, shoppers, children and those simply looking for a relaxing day out. Consisting of a variety of gardens, a research farm, organic shop, restaurant, conference rooms and offices, Ryton is a virtual mecca for anyone interested in organic gardening, farming, food or natural health.

Different gardens include:
  • The Rose Garden
    The rose garden contains a wide variety of bush roses and climbing roses, chosen for their resistance to diseases, and planted to increase the diversity of plants and insect life in the garden. The display demonstrates that it is possible to grow roses without pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilisers as the roses have been fed only with well-rotted manure and bone meal!
  • The Ryton Garden
    This is an organic back garden – one that is both attractive and productive, in a garden setting. Vegetables are grown on a four-year rotation, ornamental plants attract useful insects, the lawn is managed organically and garden waste is recycled through the compost heap. There is even a small patch of comfrey for making liquid feed and for mulching.
  • The Herb Garden
    The herbs in this garden range from common culinary herbs and medicinal wild plants to exotic pot-pori herbs.
  • The No-Dig Garden
    Digging isn't always necessary for growing good crops, in fact not digging can sometimes benefit the soil. This plot has never been dug, it was cleared using weed control mulches such as carpet and cardboard. No-dig gardening relies on natural processes to build up the fertility of the soil – in particular the work of earth worms.
  • The Wildlife Garden
    The aim of this garden is to create a haven for wildlife. As intensive chemical farming destroys the countryside, private gardens can make an important contribution to conservation. The different habitats encourage creatures to take up residence in the garden and the flowers and shrubs provide them with food.
  • The Unusual Vegetables Garden
    Not many of these vegetables are sold in the supermarkets but they are certainly worth eating and are not difficult to grow. They are also very versatile and more tolerant to adverse conditions than conventional crops!
  • The Pest, Weed and Disease Control Garden
    Without the use of poison! Building up a healthy soil and a balanced environment are the organic gardener's most important lines of defence against attacks. However they do still occur. This display shows ways of avoiding them by planting resistant varieties, growing vegetables in rotation, interplanting crops and using physical barriers and traps. The greenhouse shows biological pest control in action and weeds are controlled with mulches.
  • The HDRA Members' Experiments Garden
    This plot reproduces the small scale trials that members are carrying out in their own gardens! They play an important part in HDRA's experimental work, although their findings are backed up with more detailed scientific trials.
  • The Special Needs Garden
    Not only does Ryton have facilities for those with a disability – the gardens, shop and restaurant are all fully accessible to wheelchair users – this garden also aims to demonstrate design features and gardening principles for those with a disability. (Visually impaired etc)


Other areas include:

  • A Composting Display
  • A Shrub Border Display
  • A Conservation Area
  • A Raised Bed Garden
  • The President's Garden
  • A Land Clearance Area
  • A Bee Garden
  • A Fruit Garden
  • A Lawn Demonstration Area
  • The HDRA Seed Library

...and much more!

As can be seen, Ryton has practically everything that the home gardener and professional would ever want and would have to be a must see on everyone’s travel itinerary.

For further information, contact:
Ryton Organic Gardens
Coventry CV8 3LG
Email: [email protected]


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