Garden centre harvests rainwater through Victorian plumbing system  

Company: The Gardens Group

Castle Gardens in Sherborne, Dorset has put plans in place to dramatically reduce its mains water consumption, connecting a brand new 50,000-litre rainwater harvesting tank to an underground Victorian brick-lined well and plumbing system. Recently discovered under the garden centre by Mike and Louise Burks, who opened the garden centre in 1987, this brick-lined well was once the source of water for Sherborne Castle’s Walled Kitchen Garden, where Castle Gardens now sits, and has been revived to channel harvested rainwater into the bedding plant area. 

As well as supplying a free and sustainable source of water for the plants, collected in the new purpose-built butyl-lined water tank, the remastered system also contributes to localised flood control, stopping excess water from hitting the road. Mike Burks, managing director of The Gardens Group explains: “Harvesting rainwater is a great example of how gardening is a force for good when it comes to looking after the planet. Water is such a precious resource and climate change is contributing to higher levels of rainfall, so we’re really excited to have revived this relic of the site’s horticultural past, while reducing our own impact on the environment as a business.”

The Victorian brick-lined well is one of many discoveries that Mike and Louise have uncovered during their 35 years on the site. With tumbled down cold frames, Victorian greenhouses and underground tunnels carrying heating pipes among their recent finds, they plan to excavate further to reveal more of the garden centre’s horticultural history in the months and years to come.   

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