The Walled Vegetable Garden
There's no reason why the productive part of a large country garden should not be as beautifully designed as the rest of the outdoor space says Graduate Landscape designer, CHRIS JAMES
When your brief from a client is to design a vegetable garden inspired by the restored Kitchen Gardens at Hampton Court Palace you know you need to create a space that is not only highly productive - producing lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables - but visually stunning too. The King's Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court was originally built for William and Mary in 1689 on a site that had been Henry VIII's Jousting Arena. For our project - a new build and a somewhat imposing manor-style house at Petersfield - we had a 3,000 square metre blank canvas framed by surrounding woodland which we have effectively harnassed to 'cradle' our modern take on a Walled Vegetable Garden.
Our client, a keen vegetable gardener, left behind a productive allotment at her previous address and so understood that our very first step to realising this design needed to be a comprehensive soil analysis which, in turn, showed us what we would need to do to treat the soil and make it more productive for her. We were working with a sandy free-draining soil which we improved by digging down to half a metre to break up the pan, land raking the top surface and then adding a rich fertilising manure.
This project is about to celebrate it's 1st anniversary and so by this time next year, the vegetable beds will have been fine tuned, individually, to ensure the soil conditions are just right for the particular crops growing in those beds. We've started simply and in its first growing year, the Walled Vegetable Garden has produced a bumper crop of simple home grown produce including potatoes, tomatoes, leeks and lettuce. Fruit trees already planted include apple, morello cherry, pear and green gage plums and we have also introduced raspberries and black- and redcurrant bushes.
Fruit cages can often really spoil an otherwise pleasing kitchen garden plot so we worked with our local timber mill which - under the careful and accurate eye of our in-house joiner - crafted circular oak posts with mortise and tenon joins to make fruit frames that enhance the aeshetics of the site and will, over time, weather down to a softer presence on the garden which has the benefit of being in full sun all day - another pre requisite for a successful kitchen garden plot.
The glasshouse we selected is bespoke Victorian-style greenhouse by Alitex and of the type favoured by The National Trust and the eye catching globe statue in the centre of the garden is a David Harbour sculpture chosen by the client to replace a Mulbury tree that was originally considered for that focal point.
Circular garden designs for vegetable gardens are few and far between and can be something of a challenge to get right but they are very pleasing to the eye and a pleasure to work on. The curved outer wall of this kitchen garden is, as you can see, a very pleasing shape which we have then reinforced (echoed) with the planting of a low yew hedge and by incorporating the in-fill gravel paths. We have, in effect, a design built up with circles within circles all of which are softly and beautifully framed by the natural landscape.
The non fruit and vegetable planting scheme to attract pollinators into the Walled Vegetable Garden will feature the list of plants below:
Aster 'frikartii Monch', Geranium 'Mayflower', Echinops ritro 'Blue Globe', Eryngium 'Silver Ghost', Euphotorium 'Orchard Dene', Iris 'Carnival Time', Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies', Coryopsis 'Rosea', Salvia pretensis 'Indigo', Foeniculum 'Giant Bronze', Miscanthus sinensis, Echinacea rubinstern, Hydrangea 'Annabelle', Sanguisorba 'Pink Tanner', Persicaria 'Taurus', Veronicastrum 'Fascination'
And of course no self-respecting vegetable garden is complete without strawberries, rhubarb and, with a nod to our English heritage past, tayberries.
Please Visit The Walled Vegetable Garden for more images.