Welcome to the Sustainable Garden!

When I was in my mid-30s, I realised I wanted to change my life and focus on doing something I had always yearned to do — and something that would have a positive impact on the future of our planet. 

Today, after many years of hard work, I’m very happy to introduce the culmination of that journey, and my great passion: The Sustainable Garden, a little bit of heaven in Devon.

It’s been a long and challenging road. Over the past dozen years, I’ve acquired degrees and certifications in horticulture, garden design, nutrition, and most recently, sustainability — and got a whole lot happier and healthier along the way!

When I first embarked on this journey, I spent a decade designing and landscaping small London gardens, while seeing nutritional therapy clients in my spare time. In 2015, I was ready to think bigger, and my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to move from the hustle and bustle of Brixton in South London to the peaceful rolling countryside of South Devon. 

We swapped a semi with a small garden for an old farmhouse with seven acres of land, so that I had the space to combine my passion for creating beautiful gardens with my desire to grow our own healthy food. But moving from a garden with a few pots of tomatoes to several acres with nearly 100 ancient cider apple trees and pastureland with grazing sheep — all surrounded by endless, high-maintenance hedges was a bit of a shock to the system.

After a year of watching and thinking – and drawing and planning – we finally started work in early 2017. We made a nature pond filled with native species to help encourage lots of local wildlife with a wildflower meadow all around it.  We scraped off a layer of rich topsoil from the meadow area and seeded it with a mix of native perennials and cornfield annuals. The richer soil was then used to level out the pot-holed paddock near the house, so I could make it into my long-dreamed-of ‘potager’ garden to grow our own fruit, veg, herbs and flowers in style.  

The overarching design was tricky to get right. With no straight lines in sight, new walls or fences weren’t going to work, yet I wanted the new features to both blend in with the naturalistic feel of the ancient orchards behind them and yet have a bit of formality to go with the old manor house. Most of all I really wanted to make sure I had captured the ‘spirit of the place’.

Happily, the design worked, and remarkably soon it looked like it had always been here! The meadow blossomed, the veg grew, the pond matured and the pasture turned into grassland, rich in native species. It’s now nearly seven years since we arrived and the place has been transformed into an ecological paradise full of flowers, birds and butterflies, with a constant hum of happily buzzing bees.  

Along the way I pursued a MSc in Sustainable Food & Natural Resources, which provided the formal education and broader perspective to the ideas I was trying to achieve in the smallholding. Since I started the course, the global imperative for sustainability has only strengthened, and I’m so happy that I’m now able to share this special place with those that may want to do something similar themselves. 

I’ve created a series of courses at The Sustainable Garden to teach others how to make their own wildlife-friendly garden, or how to grow their veg in the particularly pretty way that potagers provide; to learn more about nutrition and the health benefits of home-grown food; and to start an orchard, or just make some fresh apple juice, cider or cider vinegar (a cure-all in its own right by the way!).

I also offer private consultancy to provide tactical strategies for managing your land more sustainably, creating more ecological diversity, growing yourself healthy, and doing your bit to protect the wellbeing of the planet along the way, whether you have a postage stamp of a garden, or something much more substantial. 

If any of these things appeal to you, or if you just want to spend some time in a beautiful spot, taking some time out and feeding your soul, we’d love to welcome you here soon.

You can see everything we offer HERE.

Charlotte Parton