The Walled Garden was a first port of call upon entering the National Trust-owned site of Croome in Worcestershire. It is part of the landscape that Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown famously designed at Croome, however it is not owned by the National Trust like the rest of the site.
It is an independent and ongoing project that relies massively on volunteers to restore the 7-acre walled garden to its former glory. It is at least 250 years old and reputedly the largest walled garden in Britain or Europe.
I am sure there are some visitors to Croome who baulk at the fact you have to pay admission to see the walled garden on top of entry to the rest of the parkland; however £5 is a small price to pay to experience such a fantastic walled garden in stunning surroundings. And that money goes entirely towards the renovation.
I had heard of the Walled Garden but didn’t really know what to expect, and I will admit I was really impressed by what I experienced. It is a big space that the team have worked wonders with, and you can see the work there is ahead on the project. The location is fantastic, with the Malvern hills providing a great backdrop over the site. And there is a whole wealth of both edibles and ornamental plants across the site, as well as glasshouses, a water feature and a dedicated rose garden. Highly impressive considering the site was overgrown and neglected when restoration work began in 2000.
Their border of outdoor tomatoes was really impressive, with a huge range of type and species. Most interesting was the ‘Indigo Blue Berries’ variety (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Indigo Blue Berries’) which produces a stunning blue almost-black cherry tomato. In one glasshouse there featured a wide variety of peppers and chillies that seemed in great health and, again, they came in a resplendent range of vibrant colours.
I was really impressed by their herbaceous borders tucked away at the back of the site; it was a striking selection of plants and shrubs, with annuals such as Tithonia and Amaranthus complementing Dahlia and Crocosmia amongst others. The garden features a huge variation of Dahlia of all types and colours, together with a well-stocked rose garden featuring more than 50 species. Visitors to the Walled Garden in the Spring can enjoy a packed Daffodil bank.
One special attraction within the walls is the chance to walk a stretch of the underground tunnels which distributed heat from the boiler house to the glass houses. There is a stretch open for visitors to descend the steps into and walk their way along, though it is narrow and low which meant, as a taller gentleman myself, I certainly stooped my way through the tunnel towards the boiler house.
The walled garden continues to be a work in progress, it is a big project and there are signs all around that there are major jobs still to be done. But the signage and display boards around the garden really clearly and informatively talk visitors through the development to date and some of the bumps in the road the team have experienced so far.
It is a mammoth development project for the owners, gardeners and volunteers who give their time and the walled garden will only continue to grow and become a haven for visitors. It is a fantastic example of a walled garden and certainly well worth a visit. The edibles on show are numerous and impressive, while the borders and range of plants are highly impressive and will appeal to any horticultural fanatic. And they serve tea and cake in a tent on the lawn, what more could you want.
The Walled Garden at Croome Court is open from 11am-5pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (plus Bank Holidays) from mid-April until the end of September. It does have a £5 admission charge for adults, with children going free, but rest assured every penny goes towards the restoration project.