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There is nothing better, on a sunny afternoon, than wandering around the grounds of an historic or country home to see how they have designed or planted their gardens. Garden designs in these places vary enormously, some are designed to be beautiful, some are designed to showcase particular types of plants, some are designed for visitors but sometimes they are designed around plants with a purpose.

Plants have been grown as food and medicine throughout history and today there are some gardens that you can visit that celebrate useful and interesting plants, be they edible, medicinal or have holistic properties.

As we are Garden Designers based in Leeds, we thought we would share a few gardens that celebrate useful plants in Yorkshire and the North.

The Walled Kitchen Garden at Harewood House

Harewood House has a great range of outdoor spaces, but the one that is interesting for this topic is the oldest. In situ since 1759 this walled garden was created at the same time as the house to provide food for the household. Still used today as a kitchen garden, there are now twelve large beds growing a huge assortment of heritage and modern varieties of fruit and vegetables, it is also a great place to learn as they offer garden talks and demonstrations so you can pick up hints and tips for your own allotment.

Yorkshire Lavender Garden

Lavender is an extremely useful plant and can be made into a variety of great smelling products – many of which can be bought at Yorkshire’s own Lavender Gardens. Set in over 60 acres and in an area of outstanding natural beauty, this unique garden has a huge range of lavender flowers in a range of colours, a lavender maze and a sensory garden to enjoy.

Alnwick Poison Garden

Created by the Duchess of Northumberland, the poison garden is a must see when visiting Alnwick. Set within the Alnwick Garden (which itself is beautiful) but behind locked gates that read ‘these plants may kill’ there is a dazzling array of deadly and poisonous plants to be explored. You enter in small groups and introduced to over 100 plants with a guide who can tell you exactly how each of these plants may kill you!

Dilston Psychic Garden

A place of wellbeing with a focus on medicinal herbs and a unique collection of plants to stimulate the psychic abilities. Located in Northumberland with over 800 European medicinal species, this holistic garden has a huge amount of information signposted beside its plants. With workshops in plant medicine, flower essences, botanic folklore and herbal tea trails this is a space to inspire a gardener’s mind and soul.

Wortley Hall Walled Garden

An organic kitchen garden near Sheffield that works as a social enterprise to encourage a love of producing your own food in an organic way. Along with creating delicious produce for the locals, this garden also provides workshops, classes and volunteering opportunities for all. You can book in as part of a group or visit on one of their public open days!

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