Location: Penhurst, Battle East Sussex TN33 9QP England
Type: Retreat Centre / Offers accommodation? Yes / Permanent Labyrinth
Open: All year / Garden Capacity: 20
The Orchard at Penhurst Retreat Centre. The Orchard has been a haven for wildlife and guests since the Centre opened in the 1990s but over recent years work has been done to make the area even more inviting for all those who come here. The old apple, pear, walnut and ornamental trees are well cared for and provide flowers and fruit in season as well as nesting and roosting space for birds. The ground around them is being developed as natural wildflower meadow and along with many different grasses, we find flowers such as Cuckoo Flower, Cow Parsley, Ox-Eye Daisy, Yarrow, Knapweed and Lady’s Bedstraw. These all provide nectar at different times of the year, supporting the many bees, butterflies and hoverflies that we find in the Orchard. Paths through the meadow are kept close mown and as you wander through you will hear crickets and grasshoppers as well as birds singing and see butterflies, beetles and bees all going about their business around you.
The walk around and through the Orchard takes in some re-purposed farm equipment that has been cleverly sited by our Gardener, Gary, to provide interest and support for plants, including a harrow supporting a sweet scented honeysuckle and a ladder leaning up against a tree is helping a pretty rambling rose get off the ground. At another point on the walk, a plough makes an interesting focal point and nearby layers of turf, tiles, sticks and bricks have been built up to make a bee and insect ‘hotel’. A small pond brings added wildlife to the area and plays host to frogs and toads.
There are three summerhouses in the Orchard enabling guests to be in amongst the trees and flowers whatever the weather. Throughout the Orchard we have several praise plaques with quotations from scripture and words of praise to encourage people to pause and pray. In an open area near the top of the Orchard there is a simple grass Labyrinth which can be walked prayerfully at any time and overlooking the whole space is our wellstocked Art Room with sunny patio outside, perfect for painting, creating collage or simply sitting and taking in the view. We aim to provide a peaceful space that honours our creator God whilst drawing his children closer to him as they experience the detail, beauty and diversity of his creation up close.
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