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					     T H E P O T T I N G S H ED
                                                                  MAGAZINE                           ISSUE ONE • JUNE 2006


Come into The
Potting Shed!
Welcome to the first Newsletter
from the Walled Kitchen Garden
Network, an alternative ‘virtual’
forum. We hope to make this a
regular feature, but we would like to
ask for your input for future editions.
If you have any news, events, recent
research, ideas or tips that you
would like to share, we would be
happy to hear from you.
Please send your copy, preferably
no more than 500 words, (no
images I’m afraid) to: f.grant@
walledgardens.net


Network News
We are pleased that Adam Hunt
has joined the Network team as a
volunteer. Adam is an experienced
                                          WKGN FORUM – HELIGAN
                                          21st October 2006
project manger and fund raiser, and
is currently project manager for the      Over the past few years the WKGN has witnessed a surge of renewed
Walled Garden at Cowdray, so he           interest in walled kitchen gardens. There are now many successful examples
will be able to advise on planning,
                                          of restored and working kitchen gardens, a fact recognized by John Harris,
funding, project management, etc.
adamhunt@walledgardens.net                the eminent architectural historian, when he writes that ‘the restoration of
                                          redundant kitchen gardens throughout Britain has been a success story’.

                                          So it is appropriate that this year the    Thoday, Horticultural Consultant
                                          2006 Forum will be held at Heligan,        specializing in historic gardens.
                                          where the owners were among the
   The list of walled gardens to          first to appreciate the potential of       In the afternoon there will be a choice
                                          their derelict kitchen gardens. These      of guided tours of the gardens led by     Design sponsored by MINT Design (01273) 261166 murray@mintcreative.com
   visit is now up on the website
   on the ‘Garden Finder’ page.           have been meticulously restored to         the gardeners and the speakers.
   There are over 90 entries,             create a successful and thriving visitor   As usual this will be an all day event.
   however we do not claim that           attraction.                                Tickets will cost £50 to include lunch,
   this is a complete list, so if you                                                tea/coffee and admission and tour of
   know of any gardens that you           Speakers at the Forum will be              the gardens. Note that this year we are
   think should be included (they         Susan Campbell, chair of WKGN,             able to offer concessions to students
   should be accessible to the            historian and author; Tom Petherick,       and community organisations.
   public) please let us know.            Independent Consultant and early
                                          member of the Heligan team, Philip         More information and booking form
                                          McMillan-Browse, Horticultural             can be found on our ‘Events’ page.
                                          Consultant for Heligan and Peter




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www.walledgardens.net
        T H E P O T T I N G S H ED
NEWS & EVENTS
Lydiard Park                               with saplings, brambles, hemlock and
A major restoration is taking place at     bindweed, the garden lies behind the
Lydiard Park near Swindon, once home       early 19th century conservatory that
of the Bolingbroke family. A £3 million    was added to the Chiswick House
grant from the HLF has enabled present     estate in 1812. The Kitchen Garden
owners, Swindon Borough Council to         Association is reviving the gardens
begin restoration of this important        to a place of productivity and beauty
historic landscape, which includes the     in association with schoolchildren
18th century walled garden. Unusually      who come to dig, plant and eat their
this will be recreated as an ornamental    own-grown produce as part of their
fruit and flower garden, in the Anglo-     curricular activities. Over 800 child
                                                                                       Chiswick House
Dutch style, which is believed to be in    sessions have so far been held and the
keeping with Lady Bolingbroke’s tastes.    project is booked up to capacity. Earlier
The project is due for completion in       this year a large Heritage Lottery Fund
2008. Head Gardener Nick Burton            regeneration grant threatened to turn
(previously from Kelmarsh Hall) will       half of the walled garden into a car
lead a guided tour of the garden on        park, but negotiations are currently
Wednesday, the 26th July, at 2pm. For      under way to ensure the continuation
more information visit their website:      of the project and a gentler approach
www.lydiardpark.org.uk                     to solving the problems of overflow
                                           car parking for fund-raising activities
                                           within the grounds. The next Open Days
Shugborough Hall                           are on Sundays 7 May, 18 June and 16
The National Trust is restoring the        July, 1-5pm. For more information, or to
walled kitchen garden at Shugborough       be added to the mailing list, see www.
Hall, near Stafford. The intention         kitchengarden.org.uk                        Lydiard Park
is to create a working garden that
is historically accurate to 1805, the      Croome Court
date when the garden was built. Old
varieties of fruit and vegetables          The owner of Croome Court,
appropriate for that date will be grown,   Worcestershire is seeking planning
and for even greater authenticity, the     permission to build 5 bungalows in
gardeners will dress in period costume,    one half of the Grade II listed 7.5
using replica tools and horticultural      acre walled kitchen garden. The
techniques of the period! Now open to      landscape and gardens are of particular
the public.                                significance since they were Capability
Tel: 01889 881388 www.                     Brown’s first commission. The National
shugborough.org.uk                         Trust, who own the surrounding
                                           parkland which they are in the process
                                           of restoring, have made an offer of
Chiswick House                             £2.25 million for the property, which
                                                                                       Croome Court
The Chiswick House Kitchen Garden          has been dismissed by Mr Bilton, the
project started in 2005, when a group      owner, as “derisory”. The other half
of volunteers was given the key to the     of the walled garden is also in private
neglected walled garden created by Sir     ownership and is being lovingly restored
Stephen Fox in 1682. Partially used as a   by its enthusiastic owners, Mr and
council storage nursery and overgrown      Mrs Cronin. See The Daily Telegraph,
                                           April:22nd 06
     T H E P O T T I N G S H ED
 FEATURE

The Kitchen Garden at Downing Hall
by J P D Williams                                                                         fig1
Downing Hall, in the parish of Whitford, Flintshire, was built by the Pennant
family c.1624. In the later 1760s their most famous son, naturalist and
travel writer Thomas Pennant (1726-1798), used profits from lead mining
to refurbish the house, removing the stables a short distance to the south.
The walled kitchen garden, just beyond these new stables, was probably
constructed around this time (fig-1).

In a local landscape characterised          had been incorporated into a lean-to
by steep dingles, relatively flat land      glasshouse, but the roofline partially
is rare; that restriction may account       obscured a window in the western wall,
for the garden’s irregular shape and        indicating it was a later addition (fig-3).
relatively short south-facing wall, but
even so it slopes significantly east to     This window relates to a ruined               fig2
west. Bricks for the walls were probably    structure outside the NW corner,
burnt on the estate, perhaps in an area     perhaps a gardener’s cottage or, given
nearby dubbed ‘the brickfield’. Some        its small size, office.
of the coping stones appear to be of        In 1853, on the death of David’s
fireclay, perhaps from a local brickworks   granddaughter Louisa, Downing passed
supplying the area’s furnaces.              to her widower, Rudolph Feilding, later
Thomas had an old-fashioned solid-          Earl of Denbigh. In 1858 Rudolph,
roofed greenhouse in the ornamental         having remarried, substantially enlarged
grounds, but the first recorded             the Hall. It was probably around this
productive glasshouse was built for         time that the lean-to glasshouses
his son David (1763-1841), a member         were re-built in their final form, using
of the Horticultural Society, in 1806-      machine-pressed bricks and a uniform
7. His father’s friend Samuel Vernon        design with wide piers to the front wall
of Chester sent young vines for ‘your       (fig-4).
new building’ including ‘sweetwater                                                       fig3
grapes’, ‘Hamburgh Grapes’ and ‘St.         To maintain a level through the central
Peter’s Grape’ to be put ‘into a larger     range of three vineries their base
Pot immediately’ and ‘sunk into the         was raised almost 2m at its western
Back [Pit]’. Vines were also supplied       end. The first series OS map of 1871
by nurseryman James Hunter of the           shows six glass structures within the
Cottage, Hockley near Birmingham;           kitchen garden and a further two in the
raised from bud rather than by layering,    frameyard to the north (fig-1).
these seem to have failed.                  One of the most interesting features
Discontinuities in the brickwork of         of the garden is a curved projection in
the north wall hint that David added        the north-east corner. This contained
further glasshouses. Its western section    a large north and west facing rockery,
was heated by a flue with an unusual,       probably a hardy fernery. A door from
sloping top (fig-2); by 1871 this flue      this leads to a sunken path along the
       T H E P O T T I N G S H ED
fig4                                              fig5




fig6




outside of the east wall; this would have   Three Stoke Holes … and a Boiler              of the garden in its heyday have come
provided an attractive ‘visitor route’ to   House’. Only one back shed survives,          to light. During the following decades
the orchard beyond, with the option of      with two storeys it was perhaps the           nearly all glass, wood and metalwork
a circuit returning down the centre of      gardener’s room and bothy (fig-6).            was removed, leaving only decaying
the garden.                                                                               glasshouse bases. In the 1990s the
From 1869, except for one brief             The glasshouses were recorded as:             remaining estate was divided and the
period, Feilding moved back to his          GREENHOUSE, 25 ft. by 16 ft., heated.         walled garden sold off with planning
Warwickshire seat, Newnham Paddox.          Range of THREE VINERIES, 68 ft. by 16         permission for a dwelling. Construction
Downing was let as a sporting retreat       ft 6 in., heated. PEACH HOUSE, 20 ft.         is likely to start in 2006; of modernist
to tenants including glassmaker William     by 15 ft., heated. GREEN HOUSE, 34 ft.        design, using a three-quarter span roof,
Pilkington, industrialist Thomas Storey     by 20 ft., heated. PEACH HOUSE, 34 ft.        the house will occupy the site of the
and sugar magnate William Henry             by 20 ft., heated. CUCUMBER HOUSE,            central vinery range.
Tate. The kitchen garden continued          34 ft. 9 in. by 12 ft., heated. Two Forcing   There is no public access to Downing
to develop however; the 1899 OS             Pits, and one Cool Pit.                       kitchen gardens, although public
map shows two new span-roofed               Some of these can be identified on the        footpaths through other parts of the
glasshouses within the garden (one          OS maps, while others are less clear.         estate make attractive walking and
obscuring part of the fernery), and         Some structures, notably the long, thin       are included in a series of waymarked
changes in the frameyard (fig-5).           glasshouse in the frameyard (perhaps a        ‘Pennant Walks’.
                                            peach case, ventilation holes in the back
Downing was offered for sale in 1920        wall survive) seem to be unlisted.
with ‘Two Acres of deep fertile soil        The Hall burned down in 1922 and
planted with Bush, Standard and             the ruins were demolished in 1953.
Espalier Fruit Trees’, a ‘Potting House,    Although the house was recorded
Fruit Room, Pot Store, Rhubarb Forcing      photographically, no record was made
House, Gardeners’ Room, Bothy and           of the kitchen garden; no photographs
     T H E P O T T I N G S H ED
                                                                                Nothing wrong with
                                                                                us oldies! by Ray Warner
                                                                                I am often asked about the benefit is
                                                                                of growing heritage vegetable varieties
                                                                                rather than modern F1 types. My
                                                                                answer is simple, if a variety has been
                                                                                grown for 50 years or more, it must
                                                                                have something going for it; and in
                                                                                most cases it will be flavour. Next time
Tatton Talk – From the kitchen garden                                           you eat a basic supermarket Tomato,
                                                                                consider what it actually tastes of, and
 A VOLUNTEER’S VIEW by Marion Prescott                                          then think back to those you ate 20 or
Today I made some curtains.            the 2005 season was the first time       30 years ago, which would usually have
Not quite as riveting an opening       we managed to be up to date with         come from the garden rather than the
sentence as “last night I dreamed of   the jobs!                                shops. Older varieties like Harbinger,
Manderley”, but all will be explained.                                          Golden Sunrise and Pink Brandy-wine
First– a bit of background.            This winter has been more of a           actually taste of Tomato and generally
                                       traditional one, and although the soil   speaking have thinner skins. Yes they
The project for the recreation of the  here is a sandy loam, and the walls      may take longer to ripen but then who
Victorian/Edwardian walled kitchen     offer some degree of protection,         wants to go to the time and effort
garden at Tatton Park, Knutsford,      the frosts have been keenly felt.        of growing “Supermarket” Tomatoes.
Cheshire, started some five years      This is where the curtains come          Especially when you see signs about
ago, and I was fortunate to be         in. Fleece curtains – to protect the     Tomatoes being “specially grown for
involved right from the start, in the  plum blossom on the north wall of        taste” (what else would they have been
capacity of skilled volunteer, as I    the orchard. The tall walls are wired    grown for?)
had just “retired” from a career as a  for training the plums in fan shape,
professional horticulturist.           so it was a fairly simple matter to      Head-gardeners jobs depended on
                                       staple the fleece onto canes top and     them producing a good selection of
The kitchen garden team started        bottom of the drop, and send Simon       fresh vegetables on a daily basis, and
with a blank canvas, and together      (the gaffer) up the ladder to fix the    varieties came to be developed which
with the archaeologist, the architect, canes to the wires. (He’s a young        ensured that this could happen; passed
and the contractors, gradually started chap, and I’m getting on a bit.)         on between gardeners they eventually
to lay out the skeleton of the garden.                                          became commercially available. One
The genius loci approved.              Finally, for a superb end-note (which    of our best selling varieties is the “Fat
                                       is a one-off) one set of the two         Lazy Blonde” lettuce; the name is the
The project attracted the attention    husband and wife teams of Tuesday        anglicized form of “Grosse Blonde
of a few enthusiastic gardeners and    volunteers recently celebrated their     Paresseuse”. Fat, because it is a large,
allotment holders after the garden     fortieth wedding anniversary, and        Lazy since it does not run to seed in hot
began to take shape, and now having having saved up their shared petrol         weather and Blonde for the reason that
worked together for several years,     expenses over the last few years,        the central leaves are a pleasing greeny-
the Tuesday volunteer crew – 15        commissioned a pair of very fine,        gold. So, nothing to do with sexism, but
strong in full muster – make a very    craftsman-made iron gates which          a practical name for a practical lettuce!
productive and hardworking team,       have now been installed between the      F1 hybrids were developed to produce a
working all through the year, and in   orchard and the kitchen garden, thus     crop that matures all at once, whereas
all weathers, thus achieving much.     providing the missing link between       most gardeners want to be able to pick
                                       the two areas. The gates incorporate     a small amount daily, rather than deal
There are keen volunteers on           acorns for the National Trust, and       with pounds of produce; this perhaps
Wednesday and Thursday, and            design elements from the pair of iron    suits the commercial grower and the
although seasonal, make a good         gates at the other end of the kitchen    supermarket, so therefore has its place,
contribution to the manpower           garden. The wooden half-gate which       but not, I suggest, in the gardens of
needed to keep the kitchen garden      previously filled the gap has been       those of us who “grow their own.”
and orchard up to speed. The end of    recycled as a compost bin lid.

				
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