Forum 2022 at Audley EndBack to the grapevine

14th and 15th October 2022

Retrospective and Renaissance – a Revival of the Walled Kitchen Garden

To celebrate this 21st anniversary of the Walled Kitchen Gardens Network we will be looking at the extraordinary revival of walled kitchen gardens over the last 20-30 years,  to future opportunities and the amazing work in gardens brought back to life as productive gardens.

In 2000, the kitchen gardens at Audley End were reopened to the public by English Heritage after extensive restoration work, and are renowned as one of the best examples of a working historic walled kitchen garden. We are returning to the gardens, 20 years after the first WKGN Forum held there in 2002.

We are delighted to have great speakers who will be sharing their extensive knowledge and experience, and demonstrating skills involved today to manage walled kitchen gardens and looking forward to new projects.


Day 1

Friday 14th October  – we will meet in the historic Assembly Rooms in Saffron Walden for the first part of the day,  to hear our guest speakers, then drive the 5-10 minutes to the Walled Gardens at Audley End for lunch and the afternoon with the gardens team.

The afternoon will finish with time for questions and discussion

Our Speakers include:

Susan Campbell – gardens historian, writer and illustrator, Susan is the co-founder and chairman of the Walled Kitchen Gardens Network and author of the definitive work on walled kitchen gardens, A History of Kitchen Gardening

Louise Ellis – Head Gardener, Audley End since 2018, Louise has more than 20 years studying and working in horticulture, 15 of these for English Heritage at Audley End. She will give us ‘An introduction to the walled Kitchen Garden at Audley End’

Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain – together they famously took on and restored the kitchen gardens at West Dean, and after 31 years, left an extraordinary legacy in garden restoration. Their book West Dean was published shortly before they handed the gardens on to a new generation with head gardener Tom Brown

Miranda Rock and Joe Whitehead – Miranda, Executive Chair of the Burghley House Preservation Trust, and Joe, Head Gardener, will give us an overview of proposed restoration of the 17th and 18thC walled gardens at Burghley

Day 2

Saturday 15th October

We are visiting, Luton Hoo and Wimpole Hall – both important walled kitchen gardens with so much history and today very different stories

Luton Hoo – only open occasionally, we have been invited to visit the historic walled gardens at the Luton Hoo estate. The gardens include the largest glasshouse built by Mackensie and Moncur (still there, but not restored)

In full production until the 1970s, Luton Hoo has a fascinating history, research having been carried out over many years by among others, Susan Campbell, Bedfordshire Gardens Trust and English Heritage. It will remind us of what so many gardeners have had to work with in the past. It’s and example of how time hasn’t been the friend of these lovely kitchen gardens and why what you and we all do is so important to raise their profile.

The volunteers who look after the gardens will take us on tours round the gardens. 

Wimpole Hall – the 18th century walled garden was constructed by William Eames and features Sir John Soane’s glasshouse. Each autumn the gardeners erect a display of gourdes and squashes in the glasshouse. The working garden supplies fresh produce to the restaurant as well as producing flowers for the floral arrangements in the hall and on the tables of the food and beverage outlets.

For Booking Form click here


Michael Norman

Sadly I shan’t be able to attend the Forum, but I fully support the work of the WKGN and I’m thrilled with its progress!


Hi Michael, Thank you for your comment, we are in the planning stages of holding a workshop in Spring next year as well as our Autumn Forum. This will be a one day affair somewhere central but for those planning to travel the possibility of visiting a few gardens on the way home is tempting. Let’s see if we can make this happen.

Rob Willetts

Susan, Lucy and Mike,

Thank you! Another absolutely superb Forum. What a way to come back after three years of ‘cold-turkey’ because of the enforced break. And what a great turn-out, too.

Audley End and Luton Hoo were great choices of venue. Our hosts seemed to have gone out of their way to make our visits really enjoyable, and the guides at both locations couldn’t have been more informative and helpful.

As always, it was a pleasure to meet-up with old friends and to make new ones, with the evening gatherings being as convivial as the daytime ones.

So, thank you, because, with all your hard work and dedication, there arenow a lot of very happy and contented gardeners (and honorary gardeners).

Best wishes,

Rob Willetts


Hi Rob, really nice to catch up with you again! Thanks for your kind comments and remember, Next time the first drink is on me.

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