8:06 AM 28th January 2023
Our Gardening Correspondent Offers His January Tips
York Gate. Andrew Palmer
My name is Jack Ogg and I am head gardener at a beautiful art and crafts style garden in Adel on the outskirts of Leeds.
York Gate began as a private garden created by the Spencer family. The Spencer’s brought York Gate farm in 1951 as a farm house with roughly six acres of grassland to keep their beloved horse Moonshine.
The Spencer’s were a family of three, Sybil (mother), Fred (father) and their son Robin.
They were surveyors by trade but quickly set about transforming the single acre around the house into the 14 wonderful garden rooms that we see today. Including a woodland dell, a white garden, hot garden and orchard with pond to name a few.
The family sold off a large stone barn building and part the garden in front to help fund building and planting the garden. We have since brought this back and now have a wonderful cafe, plant nursery and new areas of garden to play with. Our excellent garden team consists seven wonderful horticulturalists. In the garden there is me (Head Gardener), Tom (senior gardener), Kate and Amy (trainees with us for two years) then Mark (garden and nursery manager) and his nursery team Sarah and Ellie.
January at York Gate mostly consists of the jobs we put off before Christmas. We will be clearing out some sludge from our orchard pond and dividing and re-potting the water lilies. Normally this job would be done in Autumn but we didn’t get round to it this year.
We will also be finishing the evergreen plant pruning. We have a few large dome shaped hollies that need a trim and the yew hedges and topiary is due its yearly cut.
Then it will be the jobs that I had planned for January. We have a lovely large Wisteria that needs all its vigorous summer growth pruning hard back to its flower buds for a wonderful display in April. Plus, all the roses will be pruned and trained.
Now is a great time for you to do any major pruning. Removing any larger branches from fruit trees, thinning out overgrown shrubs to keep them at a manageable size for your garden. If it’s not going to be too wet, then winter is a great time repainting your fence or shed. We get all the York stone paving pressure washed at York Gate in the colder months to get rid of that slippery algae build up. These are some of my least favourite jobs in the garden but it’s great to have a nice fresh start to the new year.
York Gate ©Clive Nicholls
York Gate is a magical one-acre garden created by the Spencer family between 1951 and 1994. Frederick and Sybil Spencer along with their son Robin, laid out and nurtured what is now one of the finest small gardens in the country. The design of ‘rooms’ interlinked through a succession of vistas and executed with meticulous attention to detail owed much to the Arts and Crafts movement, complemented by Sybil’s skills as a plantswoman. In accordance with Sybil’s wishes, on her death in 1994, York Gate was given to Perennial.
Back Church Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS16 8DW, UK
2023 Opening Times:
Cafe open - 4 January 2023
Wednesday – Sunday 10am-3.30pm
Open Bank Holidays
Friends of Perennial only 16-19 February 10am-3pm
Read Andrew Palmer's interview with garden photographer Clive Nichols here: Capturing Garden Design At Its Best