The Peace Garden is a space of almost two acres to the north of the house which can be seen from the driveway as you approach the house.
It grew from a visit from people from a drop-in centre in Newcastle, many living in inner city flats with no access to outside space who were looking at the possibilities of getting involved at Minsteracres. They liked the suggestion of starting a fruit and vegetable garden and asked if their group could be known as peace gardeners, because of the sense of peace they felt here. And so the name Peace Garden was born.
The garden has matured considerably since its beginnings back in 2011 and is now used for retreats, relaxation and private contemplation. It is also home to an innovative gardening therapy scheme run by local social enterprise, Let’s Get Growing.
Led by horticulturalists Ross Menzies and Katrina Padmore, the scheme recognises the importance of outdoor activity in recovering from illness and maintaining wellbeing.
They run regular therapeutic sessions with a group of people with broad and diverse needs. This includes people with mental health difficulties, perhaps recovering from a life crisis, people with stress, depression and mild learning difficulties and early onset dementia.
Theirs is an innovative approach and one that has proved to be successful.
Participants are typically people who can benefit from being physically active within an upbeat, supportive group.
Ross and Katrina are happy to talk to people about their gardening therapy outreach and show them around the garden.
A double row of apple trees enclose the herb garden and ornamental pond which face you as you enter the Peace Garden. It’s a great space for small groups, and is often used by the outreach team when they start their sessions.
In a corner of the south facing wall, this sheltered, sunny spot is much sought after as a quiet place to sit, think and watch the bees. The surrounding catmint lends it its nickname ‘the blue circle’.
Vegetable and flower beds
The enclosed (rabbit – proofed!) vegetable beds are a great place to learn and share horticultural skills. Like the ornamental beds, they also contain lots of flowers. People working in them chat as they garden. For many this is a far less threatening way to and share experiences than talking face to face.
Dug by hand by volunteers and graced with a gift of pair of seats, it’s a great place to enjoy the sun and watch the dragonflies and other pond life.
Soft fruit area
During the summer, benefiting from the shelter of the huge south facing wall, this productive space provides ample supplies of strawberries, gooseberries and rhubarb.
Used most often by our outreach groups, this area has space to play with a sandpit and giant spider made from living willow big enough for smaller children to use as a den.