We have all seen Japanese gardens in the UK, haven’t we? They were all the rage back in the early 90’s!

But, have you seen the other way around, an English garden in Japan? Well, Barakura was the brainchild of fashion designer, Kay Yamada, and after 20 years, represents the most beautiful and important English style garden in Japan.


Earlier this year, I was super excited when I was invited to speak at the garden during their autumn events, where I’d be lecturing on new developments in kitchen gardens, talking about the history of UK kitchen gardens, and showing students how to make up some mixed autumn containers!

Head gardener, Andy, a former Northumberland chap, was my shepherd for the week. Gardening at Barakura is an exciting challenge, as you can’t grow just anything from the UK, it takes a few years of trial and error, as their summer’s can be so hot, oh and winter’s of -20C! Plant selection is super important, and the differing climate means some sun-lovers are thriving in shady spots, where they get some respite from the baking sun!


Japan is such an interesting country to visit. The geographical isolation especially means that the culture is like no other, and I was already aware that I had to be super polite, and things might move at a slower speed to that of the UK! The food? Well, I love to try anything, so I was completely at home, and was eating fresh fish, carrots, even cauliflower for breakfast…!

I really enjoyed spending time with the students, and they were especially enthralled with my new developments in kitchen gardens lecture, especially the edible flower section, where I revealed begonias and tulips could in fact be added to their salads!

garden talk

I loved making up the mixed containers too, and being able to run around the garden centre choosing whichever plants I liked was fun. The containers were seen as quite short-term, so we were literally flower-arranging with plants, really shoehorning them in.

After Barakura, I had chosen to stay on and visit a few companies developing new flowers and vegetables, and have some interesting new things in the pipeline, so watch this space….!

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