Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Avebury Manor - Victorian Kitchen Garden


After (image credit Richard Bradshaw)

The garden today post BBC.

It wasn’t just the Manor that was inline for some TLC. The task of restoring the late 19th century Victorian Kitchen Garden, which had become a neglected overgrown wasteland, needed someone of considerable knowledge and talent to tackle such a huge task, not made any easier by the fact that beneath the soil lay the rubble remains of a tennis court. The building you see in the first two photographs, situated to the north-west corner was the old racket court, now part of the estate offices.

David Howard, formerly Head Gardener at Highgrove for more than a decade to HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Duchess of Cornwall is a respected horticulturalist who travels extensively here and overseas to impart advice to his many clients. David was enthusiastic about the project from day one and with the help of many volunteers, the task of clearing the detritus which was waste high in places was achieved in record time

David’s vision was to recreate a kitchen garden typical of those found on country estates during the 1880s and 1890s. A series of walkways were created linking a rectilinear arrangement of planting beds with a central lawn. As much as possible, the garden includes features reminiscent of the era, with a mixture of ornamental and unusual vegetables, fruit trees including nectarines, pears and apples and also an assortment of traditional flowers to grace the Manor.

Carefully researched planting included varieties of cabbages, spring onions, potatoes, carrots, chard and calabrese. Where possible Victorian varieties were selected. In addition many culinary herbs were included, essential to add flavour to Victorian cuisine.

Final touches included a Victorian style glasshouse and potting shed. Any gardener ‘worth his salt’ would have relished a heated glasshouse to grow exotics for his employer.

Great Crested Newts
During the construction of the glasshouse, a discovery was made that had the potential to halt the project. A pair of Great Crested Newts were discovered in the foundations of what was to become the glasshouse. As European Protected Species, theses little chaps had to be rehomed. They now reside at the bottom of the garden near the compose bins in the aptly named “Newt Manor,“ bless! Specialist painter Mark Sands has included them in his interpretation of an 18th century Chinese wood carving which can be found upstairs in the Chinese Room. Mark has painted the little blighters basking on top of one of Avebury‘s huge sarsen stones. You will be happy in the knowledge that Mark’s impression of newt and sarsen are not to scale.

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