Greening Boarbank – Keeping you posted

2021 update – we’ve been busy!

Sr Margaret was interviewed for the Conference of Religious website on the topic of greening Boarbank.


You can see a report of the interview CLICK HERE


and watch a video of her at Boarbank talking about her work. 


We have been taking advantage of Lockdown to make the Boarbank garden more beautiful and productive than even before. We hope that by spring you will be able to come and inspect it!


Tree-planting has continued on the top field, where the mix in different areas includes wild cherry, crab apple, dog rose, dog wood, hazel, elder, goat willow, oak, ash, rowan, and silver birch. We are also planning to take down some of the rather scraggy conifers between the pines along the walk above the cemetery and replacing them with some Scots pines, and with hawthorn as a wind-break. There are also new rowan, crab apple and cherry on the lawns in front of the buildings. Meanwhile, down in the bottom garden we are growing up the next generation of trees from seeds and seedlings from the garden.


We have been varying the borders, adding lavender hedges and some attractive perennials such as penstemon and phlox, with more being grown up for next year. A big programme of cutting and pruning has revealed a new hedge and flowerbed, previously hidden under the undergrowth – you can look for them when you visit! We have been uncovering overgrown patches, and planting up bare spots.


A lot of the planting has been focused on attracting pollinators, with, as well as the lavender, a wildflower area for poppies, corn marigolds, cornflowers and other cornfield weeds, and other new insect-friendly native plants planned for next year for both the borders and for areas of grass. We are adding to the nearly 40 species of flowers and grasses already identified in our meadow-lawns, and hoping to enrich the top field, which is only cut once or twice a year. We have also been busy planting and spreading bulbs, including snowdrops, crocus, tulips, various daffodils and narcissi, and over six hundred fritillaries. We also have ideas for a few more roses and other climbers for the walls and archway.


Down in the vegetable garden, we have begun a major compost project, making good use of kitchen waste, garden clippings, newspaper and cardboard. We are also starting a programme of repair on the outbuildings and greenhouses. In conjuction with the are hoping to add more variety to the home-grown vegetables this year – watch this space! We are also moving much more in an organic direction in looking after the garden, although it will be a while before we can be fully organic. We have links with the Flookburgh food club, who have been happy to use the occasional excess of tomatoes or marrows, and next year we will be supporting a local project called ‘Seedlings’, aimed at helping more people grow their own food.

Our new bird boxes and bee hotels have been only lightly occupied – possibly due to Lockdown regulations! But we hope that as they become more familiar to our winged residents, they will be more regularly used. We had to block up a hole in the cottage roof where the tree sparrows nested, so we provided them with two fine bird boxes on the wall instead. They duly nested – in the hole in the other side of the same roof! But Lockdown gave us a chance to notice who else was nesting around the garden – at least two pairs of mistle thrushes, lots and lots of blue tits, a wren above Fr John’s flat, a coal tit down by the tunnel, and so on.

Next year we will be celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Sisters at Boarbank. Watch this space!


Longer term plans include continuing to develop the vegetable garden and orchards, as well as the borders, and to increase the number of pollinator-friendly plants. It would be nice to develop a few more spots for people to sit for prayer or quiet reflection. Eventually, we would also love to provide a pond outside the Nursing Home as a focus of interest and enjoyment for our residents.

We have been ‘greening’ Boarbank further in the house as well as the garden. Our project of putting thermostats on every possible radiator in the Guest House and Convent is now complete (about 180 of them!). We are continuing to add double-glazing and insulation where possible. When circumstances are easier, we can also move forward with our plans for switching fully to LED lighting.

Please continue to give us your support

– and your ideas!