The National Heritage Garden at Le Manoir

National Heritage Garden competition winners

The National Heritage Garden at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Auat-Saisonis runs in partnership with Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library (HSL). The Heritage Garden was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales, in June 2014, to showcase rare heritage vegetables from the Heritage Seed Library.

The Heritage Seed Library (HSL) work tirelessly to collect and conserve an ever increasing variety of historic and heirloom vegetables; directly contributing to a reverse in the decline of vegetable diversity. The HSL aims to conserve vegetable varieties that are not widely available and once enough seed has been collected, it becomes available for members to grow and enjoy.

The idea for the Heritage Seed Garden originated following a tentative suggestion by Garden Organic Ambassador, Bob Sherman, in 2008.

Bob Sherman says: “While walking around Le Manoir gardens in 2008 I noticed how many French heirloom vegetables were growing and so I decided to ask Raymond Blanc whether he’d consider having a dedicated display of heritage vegetables from Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library. I had sown a seed without realising how it would take root and grow.”

Bob soon discovered that his small idea had, in Blanc’s fertile, creative mind become not only a special dedicated garden to heritage vegetables but a garden design competition, an opportunity for young people, a centre for his planned gardening school and a gift in support of Garden Organic.

The competition was made up of two elements. The first phase invited registered members of the Society of Garden Designers to enter a master and planting plan for the new Heritage Garden. The winning design was chosen for its ability to create a perfectly integrated eco system and included consideration of its carbon footprint, organic varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs. The successful designer, Anne Keenan, was then responsible for the planning and planting and overseeing the building of the garden, working alongside the team at Le Manoir.

The second phase of the competition invited entrants for a scholarship to work alongside Anne Kennan and Le Manoir garden team. The winner, David Love-Cameron was offered the opportunity of a work placement at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saison to observe and participate in the whole process of designing, building and planning the Heritage Garden.

"By the autumn of 2013 we had a winning designer, Anne Keenan, and an organic scholar, David Love-Cameron. And now we have a heritage seed garden, which prompted a Royal visit from HRH the Prince of Wales, all from a simple suggestion."

The Prince of Wales has been Patron of Garden Organic for more than 25 years and during this visit to the prestigious heritage garden in November 2014, saw the unusual varieties being grown in the garden such as the Delicata squash and the Rainbow Sweet Inca sweetcorn. His Royal Highness also met Anne Keenan, Apprentice Gardener and competition winner, David Love Cameron, and staff who maintain the garden and Heritage Seed Library throughout the year. At the end of the visit the Prince was presented with a selection of Heritage seeds and vegetables, including a Crown Prince squash, by Raymond Blanc and James Campbell, Garden Organic’s Chief Executive.