In 1996, after several years of neglect the Herb Garden came under the care of the Herb Garden Club at Southover School. This was a team of children aged between 8 and 9 years old led by their teacher, Hilary Black. Every Friday after school the Club members and sometimes their younger brothers and sisters walked to the herb garden carrying watering cans, forks and spades. Sue Fitzsimmons, a herbalist and gardener who had studied monastic gardens made planting plans for the beds and plants were chosen. Hardy, native, perennial plants that were used to treat sickness or for cooking were preferred.
The Hard Slog
First the beds had to be prepared. The beds were cleared and weeded. Tansy, comfrey, woad and soapwort had self-seeded and took a long time to get back under control. Many herbs were saved for replanting. Others were grown by seed and family and friends also donated some. The Round Table funded one of the island beds and Southover School held a bring and buy sale of plants and cut herbs. Once all the weeding had been done the planting could begin. Hungry rabbits starting eating all the herbs so chicken wire had to be erected around the whole garden to stop them getting in.
By the summer of 1998 the garden was looking spectacular thanks to enormous efforts of the gardening club, Hilary Black and Sue Fitzsimmons. They were so pleased they decided to enter the South East in Bloom Greenfingers Challenge which they won and became the Regional Winners. They attended the award ceremony at Horsham Arts Centre on 21.10.1998 and received their award from Ashley Stephenson LVO, Chairman of Britain in Bloom.