In the 1800‘s most large country houses had a walled kitchen garden. They were highly productive places: food, herbs and flowers for the family, staff and guests of the big house. Walled kitchen gardens are an important part of our history as well as being beautiful places: the diversity of plants, the detailing of the architecture, the formal layout – an elegant blend of the aesthetic and the practical.
Many of the English kitchen gardens that have been restored or renovated belonged to the Victorian era. Part of large estates, these gardens were highly productive places supplying ‘the big house' with fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Restoring a period kitchen garden is likely to be a costly undertaking as these are usually large gardens of one acre or more. Faithful restorations pose practicable problems - the period you choose to restore to may not be the one that the original garden that was designed and planted. Because finding reliable evidence, such as the original planting plans.
Then using old plans might be difficult to execute as vegetables and fruit have evolved rapidly and extensively over the last 100 years. Some varieties might not be available or suited to 21st century gardening and living. You may decide to plant a mixture of old and new varieties.
Rebuilding of walls, steps, paths and any additional groundwork will need to be done undertaken. Remember to always check with planning if your garden is listed from the local authority. Check any plans or old photos, research the local history of the house and garden with the council archives and contact any historical societies. Alternatively you can hire a house historian who will do all the research for you and help build a clearer picture of your period house and garden.
Original plans and information, such as records and diaries pertaining to the garden will tell you where the original walls, steps and paths were sited. In walled gardens the renovation of the wall is crucial. The purpose of building the wall was to create an ideal growing environment by protecting the plants from the elements and vermin.
The original bricks and stone used in the construction may no longer be available so that new materials have to be specially commissioned to match the existing.
Restoring the old glasshouses can be expensive and sometimes the state of these structures is so poor that they maybe beyond repair. Modern ‘original' style glasshouses made of aluminium offer a virtually maintenance free alternative.
Once the structure of the garden has been restored and rebuilt, then you are ready for planting. With so many different plants requiring many different cultural techniques you will require a lot of reading time and listening to some of the few experienced gardeners in the art of this form of gardening.
The consultancy has many years experience of walled kitchen gardens and welcomes enquiries regarding all aspects of this subject.