Royal gardener Dean Bolton-Grant to open Northern School of Gardening at Yorke Arms

With a horticultural pedigree of tending gardens for royalty and leading politicians, Dean Bolton-Grant is someone who quite literally knows his beans.

Bolton-Grant first learnt his craft in the late 1990s at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons as a gardener in the famous kitchen gardens for Raymond Blanc

And with a career spanning a quarter of a century, he is now planning to share his knowledge with a new generation of gardeners.The lockdowns have engaged the public with nature like never before, as people have clamoured for the outdoors while being largely confined to their own homes for months on end.

Mr Bolton-Grant is now launching the Northern School of Gardening at one of Yorkshire’s most famous venues, the Yorke Arms in Nidderdale.He said: “There is without doubt a new interest in gardening which didn’t exist before all that’s happened in the past year, whether that be people who have rediscovered a love for it, or those who have never done any gardening before.

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“With the new gardening school, I am hoping to share some of the experience that I have gleaned over my career. It’s about giving a little back and helping others realise the pleasures that gardening can bring.”

He has also spent time in Europe as the gardener to the Queen of Denmark at Fredensborg Palace, which has a lavish Baroque design.

Mr Bolton-Grant first learnt his craft in the late 1990s at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons as a gardener in the famous kitchen gardens for Raymond Blanc.

He has also spent time in Europe as the gardener to the Queen of Denmark at Fredensborg Palace, which has a lavish Baroque design.

His career has also seen him working in Malta, where he was responsible for the presidential palace gardens, which are at the Prime Minister’s official residence.

Mr Bolton-Grant, 46, who lives in Harrogate with his husband, Ben, has worked with the owner of the Yorke Arms, Jonathan Turner, for the past six years.

The idea of the Northern School of Gardening was dreamt up last summer at the time that the Yorke Arms was undergoing a huge transition.

Mr Turner took the decision to close the acclaimed restaurant, which had a reputation as among the nation’s finest, and reinvent the venue in the village of Ramsgill as an elite country house for hire.

The Yorke Arms, with monastic cheese once made on the site, has been serving food for 100 years and once held one of the region’s few Michelin stars under chef Frances Atkins.

For 22 years, she served at the helm, building up the business to critical acclaim and being among the first women in the country to receive the culinary accolade.

The restaurant was bought by Mr Turner in 2017, but with its small spaces and limited covers, the decision was taken to transform the business as the coronavirus crisis hit the hospitality trade particularly hard.

Guests will now be able to book courses on the gardening school and also stay in one of the property’s 16 rooms, in a move that will broaden out the appeal of the Yorke Arms even further, according to Mr Turner.

He said: “Yorkshire is one of the nicest places in the world, and Nidderdale is one of the nicest places in Yorkshire, so I do feel very lucky to own somewhere like the Yorke Arms.

“I honestly believe there is nothing quite like what we will be offering with the gardening school elsewhere in the country - especially in the setting we have here.

“People have begun to connect so much more with the outdoors during the pandemic, and this is an opportunity to come and learn from someone like Dean, whose passion and knowledge for gardening are second to none.”

The gardening school’s courses are due to begin from June 23, two days after lockdown restrictions are expected to be fully lifted by the Government.

The first course will be aimed at novice gardeners, although Mr Bolton-Grant stressed other days will be tailored to more seasoned horticulturists.