The Theatre Garden
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The Little Theatre Garden


Theatre Garden is situated 200 yards along the canal from the Alternative Technology Centre (ATC). In 1999 this amazingly lush and vibrant south facing walled garden, which is not only beautiful but also useful, was a pile of grassy rubble. Deeply mulched with several layers of cardboard and composted bark then planted up through the mulch 1 year later, it is a great example of how to revive a derelict corner and a showcase for what can be done with odd bits of land.


  View of theatre garden  
As it is such a sunny spot with a long wall (good for protecting frost tender plants) it was a great opportunity to grow some more exotic plants for a truly theatrical display.


As with all the ATC gardens, everything aims to be useful as well as inviting to wildlife. For such a lovely position we are grateful to the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre who own this area of land.  


The begining of theatre garden


Education plays an important role - the solar lit stepping stones were made during a project with Riverside Junior School (kits for the stepping stones available from the ATC’s Green Shop). Many groups of schoolchildren visit each year.


The way we manage this area uses many sustainable principles also found in Permaculture.  More information on permaculture can to be found in the ATC’s Green Shop. Below are some examples of the principles we have used:

Low maintenance - Work with nature not against it



These only need to be planted once as do readily self-seeding annuals and biennials e.g. Honesty, pot marigolds, nasturtiums. Also, grow plants suited to the conditions you have. We planted damp-loving bistort at the lower wetter end of the garden.



In this case after the initial heavy weed suppressing mulch, all the plants have grown together to cover and in effect mulch the soil (you rarely see bare soil in nature) to reduce the need to water, suppress weeds and adds organic matter to the soil - weeding takes this valuable resource away.


         Companion planting

This keeps a good pest/predator balance. Certain plants grown together in certain groups benefit each other in many ways from pest control to encouraging healthy growth.


      Minimum intervention - why work if you can sunbathe!

Why disturb anything if it's unnecessary - it leaves a better pest/predator balance, the soil stays covered and more wildlife stays in the garden.


·         Stacking

This involves layers of plants as they might appear naturally e.g. a woodland edge, or here the cherry tree is under-planted with witch hazel with a carpet below of meadowsweet, lentern rose, and bistort. This fits more plants in less space i.e. shade lovers in gaps and sun lovers at the edge.


·         Dynamic Accumulators - weeds as mulch!

The weeds and vigorous annual seedlings are pulled out, including their roots and used under the plants to rot down and feed them. Some plants in particular are useful e.g. docks store minerals from deep in the soil due to their long roots. These plants are called dynamic accumulators.

  • Wild soil
    A term used for how the soil’s surface exists naturally. Keeping the soil covered with vegetation we get natural conditions of living soil, like plenty of organisms making nutrients more available to plants. Growing fertility on the ground, reduces time, effort and stops the need for compost.



Inside the theatre garden


Inside theatre garden


Fennel in theatre garden


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Alternative Technology Centre, Hebble End Mill, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 6HJ  Tel. 01422 842121