The secret garden

A hidden memorial garden was looking a little neglected – until these volunteers got to work

Secret Garden volunteer teamThe Secret Memorial Garden is a magical little space tucked away behind high walls just a few paces from Great Torrington’s South Street car park.

It was created from an original design by Jo Winterburn as a memorial to five young boys, evacuees of the Second World War, who tragically lost their lives in a fire close by at Sydney House.

In the centre of the garden is a bronze statue of a boy reading a book, a touching tribute to the memory of these lads.

I first came across the garden a few years ago and was immediately taken with its intimacy and the personal touches that made it a place you wanted to return to. However, it had begun to show signs of neglect and needed some care to bring it back to its former glory.

Being a member of our local Torrington in Bloom group, I got the go-ahead to improve things and decided to call on some garden volunteer friends at RHS Garden Rosemoor, to see if they would help me in this venture.

Plenty were happy to help and we all met on a chilly, showery day in early winter. Those who had not seen it before were as taken with it as me, and joked that it was certainly a secret, as they had been in and out of the car park for years and had not known it was here.

Knot garden

The central knot garden, containing herbs, such as marjoram, cotton lavender, sage and thyme, planted in compartments between low box hedging was the best place to start so we all took a bed each, trimming some of the plants and weeding too. There were lots of weeds!

In spring we replanted or replaced many of the herbs, trimmed the box hedging and moved further out towards the edges of the garden, pruning shrubs and clearing more weeds.

This winter we want to give many of the beautiful wall plants, such as wisteria, golden ivy and jasmine some attention. I also intend to plan for further improvements, which will keep the Secret Memorial Garden a special place to be.


The volunteering team – L-R: Gill, me, Cherry (Chairman, Torrington in Bloom), Graham, John (Rotary club), Marie, Pat and Diana


Useful links

Knot gardens and topiary

Climbers and wall shrubs

Britain in Bloom

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