The compost bays at Hestercombe Gardens

“We have some bark chip to add into our compost heaps as unfortunately we were forced to fell a couple of ash trees which were suffering with ash dieback. However, this really helps add the carbon needed for a good mix – think of it as colours – you need green and brown. We also add shredded paper from the office, vegetable waste from the kitchen, and garden waste. We have 5 big bays and turn from one to another regularly as the more air that you introduce via turning, the hotter it gets and the faster it works.”

“Once Ben (Senior Landscape Garden Supervisor) has turned and filled the 5th bay he will cover it with tarpaulin. This will stop any tree seeds falling onto it, heat up the temperature within and steam it to a perfect crumbly compost that will be used in the beds in February and March. This not only adds nutrients and microorganisms to the soil but also helps the soil to retain moisture.”


"Don’t you risk spreading the ash dieback if you add the chips to your compost – shouldn’t it have been burned?"


"Apparently the heat of the compost deals with this risk – plus, it’s thought it’s better to keep it on site than taking it away. From talking to tree experts, ash dieback is here to stay, and is largely considered to be uncontainable."

The compost bays at Hestercombe Gardens

Did you know?

The word ‘compost’ originated in the late 14th century, from the word ‘compote’, “mixture of stewed fruits, a preserve,” from Old French composte “mixture of leaves, manure, etc., for fertilizing land” (13th century), also “condiment,” from the Latin componere “to put together,” from com “with, together” (see com-) + ponere “to place”.

The fertilizer sense is attested in English from 1580s, and the French word in this sense is a 19th century borrowing from English. The condiment sense now goes with compote, a later borrowing from French (taken from etymonline.com)

How to compost at home

Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver. Composting is useful in all gardens. Only in the very smallest gardens will it be difficult to find space for a compost heap and material to fill it.

Read this handy guide to composting produced by the RHS.

Please help us keep Hestercombe open

Over the last 30 years Hestercombe’s historic landscape and its unique, world famous gardens have been lovingly restored.

However, Hestercombe’s closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Hestercombe Gardens Trust’s finances. We’re an independent charity without the safety net of larger organisations, and we must now raise substantial funds to ensure Hestercombe continues to thrive and to help secure its magnificent heritage for future generations.

We would be incredibly grateful for any donation that you are able to give. Thank you.

Gift Aid

If you are a UK taxpayer and you select ‘Please Gift Aid this donation’, the UK Government will give Hestercombe Gardens Trust an additional contribution of 25% at no extra cost to you.

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Composting at hestercombe claire greenslade digger in compost bays dec 2020

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