Monthly Archives: May 2016

New English Through Gardening Programme

In an exciting twist to our new REEP McLaren Scholarship, we will be using the Scholarship to develop a range of gardening films with accompanying resources to help young gardeners around the world to learn English through gardening. We’ll keep you updated on the programme as it develops. For now, let us introduce you to Matt Perren, a young, award-winning filmmaker who will joining our three international scholars during the Scholarship this summer. Matt will be producing four ‘English Through Gardening’ films based on the Scholars’ practical gardening experience at four of the Scholarship gardens. Visit to learn more about Matt and his cinematography.

Matt Perren, Cinematographer

New English Through Gardening Programme 2017-11-03T12:10:23+00:00

Scholarship Update

REEP is delighted to announce the first three scholars to take part in the new REEP McLaren Scholarship. They are:

The Three 2016 REEP McLaren Scholars


Scholarship Update 2017-11-03T11:56:49+00:00

Sweet days and roses

Last week I visited Morocco with Rob, a young English gardener, and Abdelilah, a young Moroccan gardener.

Rhiannon with Abdelilah, Rob in the Valley of the Roses, Morocco

Rhiannon with Abdelilah, Rob in the Valley of the Roses, Morocco

One purpose of the trip was to meet with staff and students at Cadi Ayyad University to discuss a maintenance plan and school gardening programme for the Anglo-Moroccan Shakespeare Garden we helped to create here.

REEP's Anglo-Moroccan Shakespeare Garden at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, Morocco

The Anglo-Moroccan Shakespeare Garden at Cadi Ayyad University

We also visited a small, organic, market garden in the Ourika Valley, just outside Marrakech. Surprisingly lush and green, the Ourika Valley is one of Morocco’s major agricultural areas.

The Ourika Valley, near Marrakech, Morocco

The Ourika Valley

The market garden itself, called Jereca Farm, is run by Amanda and Fouad Mimoun. They created it to help educate Moroccan gardeners modern plant techniques and to learn from them some of the traditional beldi techniques. It was fascinating to see the affect the different gardening techniques had on the crop health and yield, and even more fascinating to see that combining modern and beldi watering techniques gave the best yields of all!

Jereca Farm, Ourika Valley

Amanda and Rob and Jereca Farm

May is time to harvest Damask roses in Morocco. We fortunate to visit Kelaat M’Gouna during the famous rose festival to see how the Moroccan’s celebrate the beautiful Damask rose.

Rose sculpture on Kelaat M'Gouna roundabout

A rose-themed roundabout in Kelaat M’Gouna

The Damask rose was brought to Kelaat M’Gouna by the French in 1938, with the first rose water distillery being opened soon after. Today, Kelaat M’Gouna is home to Morocco’s largest rose water and rose oil industry. We visited Kasbah des Roses and SOFFI Rose Cooperative to learn about the production process.

Studying the distilling process at Kasbah des Roses, Morocco

Studying the distilling process at Kasbah des Roses

Mountains of rose petals at SOFFI Rose Cooperative

Rob and I bask in the smell of roses at the SOFFI Rose Cooperative

Just outside Kelaat M’Gouna is the Valley of the Roses, where 4,200 km of Damask rose bushes yield a harvest of up to four thousand tons of roses petals every year! Most of the roses had already been harvested but it was still interesting to see the valley.

Abdelilah enjoys the view over the Valley of Roses in Morocco

Abdelilah enjoys the view over the Valley of Roses

We just couldn’t resist these beautiful rose hearts which some local Moroccan children were selling by the roadside as we left the town.

Rose heart over the Dades Gorge in Morocco

Rose heart made by children in Kelaat M’Gouna

PS. Think you’ve heard the title of this post before? You may well be right…


“Sweet spring is full of sweet days and roses; it is a box of variegated sweets.”

GEORGE HERBERT, attributed, Day’s Collacon

Sweet days and roses 2017-11-03T09:22:00+00:00

Jerry Brotton: This Orient Isle

Diana and I have just returned from a fascinating talk at the British Library by the historian and writer, Jerry Brotton. The talk, This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World accompanies a new book by the same name.

In This Orient Isle, Jerry Brotton shows that England’s relations with the Muslim world were far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have ever appreciated, and that their influence was felt across the political, commercial and domestic landscape of Elizabethan England. More information about Brotton’s book This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World can be found here

Jerry Brotton: This Orient Isle 2017-11-03T12:03:48+00:00

News from a Visit to Morocco

Diana has just returned from nearly a month in Morocco, planning next stages for the Shore to Shore project.  During a few days in Essaouira with our partners Boujemaa and Abdou, from the Association de la Chante et Musique Soufie, and with the Essaouiran Cultural Centre Dar Souiri, they planned a Shore to Shore event for the first weekend of November 2016. This will celebrate the Climate Conference to be held in Marrakesh this June as well as the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Activities will include theatre, gardening, cookery, art, discussions with local schools and young people, and lots more on a theme of ‘nature’.  After a number of meetings, Diana also had the good news that the President and Governor of Essaouira are both very much behind the project.

College El Jadida, the site of one of our Shore to Shore gardens, has inaugurated a gardening competition for their young people to create more green spaces within the grounds. This is a real challenge in Essaouira’s harsh climate but El Jadida are certainly rising to it! When REEP learned of the initiative we offered to award prizes to the students when Rhiannon visits Essaouira in June.

News from a Visit to Morocco 2017-11-01T18:38:14+00:00

An English Hanami

When our Moroccan, Spanish and English horticulturists complete their REEP McLaren Scholarship in Great Britain this summer Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens will be one of the major gardens they visit to learn traditional horticultural skills and techniques. They will be writing a blog about their scholarship so you will be able to share in the experience with them.

REEP is always keen to support our partner gardens and yesterday I visited Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens to take part in a ‘Hanami’ celebration. Hanami is the Japanese tradition of gathering beneath the cherry trees to eat, drink and be merry together beneath the pretty blossoms which herald the arrival of spring. Yesterday’s event was an English version of a Hanami festival, as visitors were invited to enjoy Japanese food beneath the beautiful white apple and pear blossoms in the orchards at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. The authentic English feel was added to by the typical English showery weather. Nothing would deter visitors from enjoying their afternoon of Hanami though today though – everyone had brought umbrellas ‘just in case’!


‘In the cherry blossom’s shade there’s no such thing as a stranger.’ – Kobayashi Issa


There are two main Orchards at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, the North Orchard and the New Orchard. Most of the apple and pear varieties in the orchards are ‘heritage’ varieties introduced before the 1730s. Our scholars will have the opportunity to prune some of these heritage varieties whilst they are at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens:


Ashmeads Kernel     |    Autumn Pearmain    |    Calville Blanc d’Hiver    |    Catshead    |    Coeur de Boeuf    |    Court Pendu Plat    |    Crimson Queening    |    Devonshire Quarrenden    |    Five Crown Pippin    |    Holland Pippin    |    Leathercoat Russet    |    Louise Bonne of Jersey    |    Margil    |    Nonpareil    |    Old Permain    |    Red Joaneting    |    Reinette Grise Ancient    |    Ribston Pippin    |    Wheelers Russet    |    White Joaneting    |    Wyken Pippen


You can see photos of the Hanami at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

An English Hanami 2017-11-02T18:48:02+00:00

Royal Patron for REEP McLAREN Scholarship

REEP is honoured to announce Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Joumala as Patron of the new REEP McLaren Scholarship!

‘I accept with great happiness your invitation to have me as a Patron of [The REEP McLaren Scholarship]. I take this opportunity to commend you for your tireless and admirable efforts in harnessing the healing powers of horticulture to bridge the divides that may arise between our faiths and cultures, bringing together our youth over the fantastic projects promoted by REEP.

I would therefore be truly pleased to continue supporting your invaluable work, in my personal capacity as a Patron, as well as through the Moroccan British Society which I continue to chair independently of my diplomatic appointments.

I look forward to remaining in touch as you take forward REEP’s exciting new projects and to our continued partnership in support of both our countries’ budding horticulturists.’

An extremely successful Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Court of St. James from 2009 to 2016, the Princess has newly been appointed Ambassador-designate to Washington. Her Royal Highness was also instrumental in the establishment of the Moroccan British Society (MBS), of which she is President.

Royal Patron for REEP McLAREN Scholarship 2017-11-01T18:31:34+00:00