Just returned from a WI Garden visit to the Walled Nursery out near Hawkhurst. We’ve had some excellent outings so far this year. What an attractive, interesting place. Battleaxe totally recommends….
According to the very comprehensive website – here is the link – the nursery and the adjoining St Ronan’s School were originally one large estate, called Tongswood. Most of the glass houses, for which the nursery is best-known, were built between the 1880s and the early 1900s. At its height there were 13 glasshouses, including a vinery, peach house, melon house, fruit house and carnation house. However, after WW2 the estate, now split up, went into decline, and the glass houses fell into dilapidation. The gardens have been in private ownership since 1995.
|The old peach house – as yet unrestored|
Over time, the glass houses are gradually being restored. Anyone can contribute to the project by sponsoring a pane of glass or a glazing bar – here is the link to the conservation page on the website.
Here is what they call the ‘Wall of Pane’ – people who have sponsored the restoration.
|One of the restored houses – The Carnation House|
The vinery has now become an excellent cafe. We had lunch there – I had an excellent cheese scone and pea, garlic and mint soup.
The nursery is now clearly thriving, and has attracted much media ttention. There are a good number of quite unusual plants on sale, all of which look very healthy, and a shop selling cards, crafts pot plants etc.
|The old melon house – half underground.|
It is a special place to visit for lovers of old-style gardens.
You can readily imagine coming across something like a Victorian auricula theatre, where wealthy landowners would display their precious pot plants. This, probably the last surviving auricula theatre in Britain, is at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire – now, why hasn’t Battleaxe visited that….?
Finally, some beautiful roses on a wall….