A productive garden

Water Lane is an ongoing restoration project in the hands of new custodians Nick Selby and Ian James who bring with them a wealth of food and horticultural passion from their previous business, Melrose and Morgan, a grocery store and kitchen with shops in London’s Primrose Hill and Hampstead.

This project and a labour of love and will take many years to fully restore. The Peach Case and Vinery will be restored while fruit trees, such as apples, pears, quince and fig will be planted and grown ‘espalier’ along the red brick walls. Four of the glasshouses have already been restored in 2017/2018, due to a generous benefactor, the granddaughter of the original head gardener, Ernest Hardcastle. The second and smallest of the four is the Cucumber House. It has raised brick beds and the remains of the original hot water pipes that heated them. For the last few years’, these beds have been boarded over, but now the team are uncovering them and planning their future use. Beneath the boards the team found 18 inches of compacted soil and underneath that a layer of ‘clinker’, a by-product of the boiler that heated the water for the garden and helped create a warm bed for the plants to flourish. The glasshouse is once again being used to grow cucumbers as well as tomatoes, aubergines and other salad crops that will suit the warm conditions. 

The Walled Garden holds many aspects of note and will delight both amateur and serious gardeners. In the height of Summer, the focus of floral activity is the incredible Melon House Border that runs nearly 30m long and is 3m deep. The star of the show each Spring is the Euphorbia characiassubsp. wulfenii, with its chartreuse-green heads that provides colour and structure throughout the bed and has also, delightfully, self-seeded around the rest of the garden. The acid-green of the Euphorbia is perfectly offset by the deep red and purple of Berberis thunbergiiRose Glow and PhysocarpusDiablo with its tiny pink flowers, Aquilegia Ruby Port, Geum’sTotally Tangerine and Marmalade, and the swaying purple pom-pom colour pops from the Allium cristophii.

 The site of the old polytunnel in the garden has been transformed into beautiful terrace with tented stretch awning, open kitchen, wood-fired oven and tables and chairs. Every table has open views out on to the glasshouses, long flower borders and vegetable and cut flower beds.

The menu at Water Lane reflects its sense of place in the English countryside. The short and ever-changing menu by head chef Jed Wrobel is guided by the seasons with British produce-led cooking that is simple and elegant but prepared with imagination and care. The menu focuses primarily on vegetables either grown in The Walled Garden’s own no-dig beds or from nearby organic and biodynamic farms. The menu will also include small amounts of grass-fed meat and day boat fish from nearby Hastings and Rye.  

A programme of courses and events at Water Lane will be announced shortly.

The Walled Garden, Water Lane, Hawkhurst, Kent, TN18 5DH

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