Our garden is everything we need for our little family, but I still covet a walled garden.
There’s a beautiful one at Calke Abbey, in Derbyshire. It’s a perfect place to get some inspiration, and there’s plenty of space for my son to run around in. With sunny weather and an energetic child, it seemed like now might be a good time to make our first visit of the year.
There’s something very satisfying about a neatly organised vegetable garden and visitors to the Physic Garden won’t be disappointed. It may still be early in the season, but the shape of the Physic Garden is beautifully marked out by the wonderful woven fences. These were put in to replace box hedges (presumably victims of blight) and their silver, organic curves are rather striking, even in the light of a March day.
Whilst originally a garden for medicinal herbs, there also plenty of vegetables these days as well, which are used in the restaurant and cafe to feed the visitors. Medicinal planting has been chosen to reflect the 18th century heyday of the garden.
Even at this time of year there are a few veg in some of the beds. The usual suspects like Corn salad, Mizuna and Artichoke. As well as something I really want to find space for; striking red rhubarb that will just keep on coming in harvest years. I’m also rather jealous of the beautiful terracotta forcers, which encourage early growth, but are particularly colourful at this time of year.
Whilst some of the the rhubarb is still wrapped up warm (and dark) inside their forcers, visitors are kept warm while they eat their lunch by a biomass boiler, which was installed to replace an oil heating system. It runs on wood chips sourced from the nearby National Forest and they’re working towards a sizeable amount being produced in the Abbey’s own woodlands. You can find out more here.
There are also several hot houses to wander round as well, including a small fern house and a, once grand, orangery. The warmth and calmness of these spaces is wonderful and makes me pine for at least a greenhouse of my own. But I still came away with a few ideas that I can add to my own garden more easily and I’m looking forward to returning in a few months time and seeing the walled garden at its peak green in the height of Summer.