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Walled garden appeal launched by National Trust

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gibside bricks

Gibside volunteers: Credit Mick Wilkes

The National Trust has launched an appeal to raise over £2 million for the rescue and restoration of some of its 140 walled gardens.

Much needed conservation work will be carried out on national treasures across the country. These include the Upper Garden at Quarry Bank, Cheshire where £1million is needed to restore its “jewel in the crown” – one of the earliest and rarest examples of a glasshouse with a domed roof. A key part of the restoration will be the production of the 7,400 panes of hand-blown glass it requires. Once reinstated to its former glory, the glasshouse will become a sensory delight for visitors filled with exotic plants as it was in its hey-day.

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Quarry Bank glasshouse Credit: Quarry Bank

At Gibside, Tyne and Wear, £650,000 is needed to rebuild 20 metres of garden wall, reinstate pathways and to recreate an elegant 18th Century orchid house – all part of the rescue of a complete Georgian landscape garden which is currently underway there. The estate was previously run by the Bowes and Bowes-Lyon family for around 300 years, but eventually the garden declined from the lavish planting of South African specimen plants to a state of disrepair in the late 1800s.  Debt and disuse then led the family to turn the estate over to the National Trust in the early 1990s. Since that time, the site has been converted back into a garden with volunteer help. When the garden wall came tumbling down last year, it was four  of the volunteers who gathered over 10,000 bricks, each one almost 300 years old, and meticulously cleaned them. This remarkable feat saved the garden £20,000.In addition, twenty-five per cent of the garden is run by local residents in a community farming initiative that produces its own fruit and vegetables.

At Blickling Hall, Norfolk, £90,000 is urgently needed for work on the garden’s greenhouses where exotic fruits and vegetables were previously grown. Whilst some show clear signs of wear and tear, others have recently had to be taken down, their rusty heating pipes exposed to the elements. The estate has already secured the rest of the  funding required, from the sale of books in the second-hand bookshop and individual pledges.When the transformation is complete, Blickling will be able to reduce food miles and CO2 emissions; “We’ll be serving much more produce grown at Blickling in the restaurant, in the same way that the garden used to provide for the estate,” volunteer for fifteen years, Sue Prutton explains.

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Blickling Hall greenhouse: credit Jo Bosch

Commenting at the launch of the appeal, Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens at the National Trust says, “Part of our desire as a conservation charity is of course to nurture the walled gardens in our care, but we also want to open up the secrets of growing fruit and veg to more people of more ages. Improving our gardens will allow us to reach out to more people and inspire the new generations of Percy Throwers and Monty Dons to get involved.”

In the last century most large houses had walled kitchen gardens. They were highly productive places where food, herbs and flowers were grown for the family, staff and visitors. If you would like to donate to the restoration of some of these gardens for the National Trust’s walled garden appeal, please visit:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walledgardens

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