Saturday, 21 June 2014


On a sunny afternoon, Sue Donnelly, volunteer and trustee,gave Friday Forum a tour of the gardens and nursery including a peek “behind the scenes”.  Horticap is based at Bluecoat Wood Nurseries, Harrogate where suitably qualified staff and a team of volunteers provide training in horticulture and other skills for adults with learning disabilities.  At the moment there are 40 part-time and full-time students aged between 18 and 70.

In the thirty years it has been trading the site, which now extends to four acres, has seen many changes.  This year’s project saw the addition of a charming tea room and next year the polytunnels will be replaced.

The Greenhouse
 Greenhouse which is heated with a wood burning stove with adaptable work spaces to accommodate students with special  needs.  It is used for propagating, sowing and making up hanging baskets and troughs for public events.

The Garden
A grid has been drawn up showing all the plants in the garden.  In addition to the attractive planting, there are many sculptures and ornaments.  Currently there are bicycle wheels decorated by the students in honour of the Tour de France.
 Peter Rabbit welcomed us to the garden


Wildlife Area
This has been established with the help of a donation. There are identification charts for insects, flora and fauna.


 The Wendy House

 The bird hide

Green issues
The site has its own wind turbine providing electricity, recycling building for plant pots. Rainwater from roofs is collected for toilets and irrigation, compost heap,
Local tree surgeons provide kindling and woodchip which is sold on.

A DIYer’s heaven.  Fully stocked workshop for repairs and construction of bird boxes, chairs, fencing etc
We also saw the students' Mess where they had their lunch.  
Timothy and Michael longstanding and industrious workers
Plant Sales
A wide range of flowers, shrubs and vegetables of excellent quality are available to purchase at very reasonable prices. 
Bluecoat Wood Nurseries, Otley Road, Harrogate, HG3 1QL
The shop and cafe are open daily from 10 - 4
A visit to Horticap can be combined with a walk round nearby RHS Harlow Carr which is also off Otley Road.
We were most impressed with what the students have achieved and I think we all agree that our visit to Horticap was a success and many of us will be making a return trip very soon.
Next meeting:   Friday Forum mini Summer Show.  For information on entry categories, scroll down to the previous blog post.                      
Friends of Paxton are meeting Monday 7th July from Midday.  An hour or two or your time to help maintain the premises are always welcome.  If another date is more suitable for you, please let us know.  In June, there will be a Dig In at Paxton Garden; date TBA.
Friday Forum meetings are 1.30pm on 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month at Paxton Hall, Paxton Horticultural Society, 186 Kirkstall Lane, Leeds LS5 2AB.   Meetings may be hands-on sessions, guest speakers or garden visits. Regular features are the Display Table where members can bring their plants for discussion and advice and the Sales Table where members sell their plants, cuttings and produce to help the club funds.  For further information log on to

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