The Walled Kitchen Gardens Network – New Year’s Eve 2023Back to the grapevine

People to thank and gardens to celebrate

Dear friends, now at the very end of the year with the winter solstice behind us, Christmas festivities done and leftovers in the fridge, we want to send out our biggest thanks to everyone who has been involved with and supported WKGN this year.

In March we celebrated Susan Campbell receiving the Veitch Memorial Medal 2023 from the RHS in recognition for her work over nearly 40 years, on and for walled kitchen gardens. It is also now 21 years since the initial meeting held at Hellens in Herefordshire, organised by Susan and Fiona Grant and which instigated the start of the Walled Kitchen Gardens Network.

In October, we were at Harewood House in Yorkshire for the first day of our Forum, with Trevor Nicholson and his team, who were such generous hosts. The theme this year looked at the relationship between kitchen gardens and their kitchens, and we listened to inspiring presentations, including for the first time head gardeners and head chefs sharing the platform! Details of all the speakers are in the Events page, but we’d like to say again enormous thanks again to Trevor, for his talk and tour of the gardens, with plans for the future of the walled garden at Harewood. To historian Steffi Shields, chef James Golding and Giles Godfrey with Bent Varming from Keythorpe Hall, for all their brilliant talks and for triggering new conversations.

Kate Nicoll gave a short introduction to the Craft Skills for Garden Conservation series of webinars and Susan Cunliffe-Lister introduced us to the walled gardens at Swinton Park Estate, that we were visiting on the second day.

We began day 2 at Swinton Park walled garden, for a walk and lots of discussion with Susan in their four acres of productive gardens, incredible to learn how many 1000’s of kilos of produce is supplied to the hotel kitchens annually. Siberian kiwi tasted, we then went on to Helmsley Walled Garden – first visited when the Forum was held there in 2007. June Tainsh (Gardens Director) gave us a wonderful and inspiring talk about the work they continue to do, maintaining the gardens and working extensively in therapeutic horticulture.

Next was the magnificent Castle Howard. We met Alistair Gunn, head gardener who gave us a superb ‘brief’ history of the place and its owners, before taking us into the walled gardens and areas not usually on the visitor trail, sharing so much knowledge with us. How many people do we know who just can’t resist the history behind old and once heated walls…? Our final visit was back in Harrogate to the kitchen garden at Rudding Park Hotel & Spa. Emma Pugh, kitchen gardener and head gardener Sarah Owens-Hughes were happy to welcome us as late as we arrived, and after wandering through (and tasting) various plants in the 52 raised beds and all used in the kitchens, we were invited for drinks in the garden to end what was truly an excellent 2 days.

Thank you again to all our hosts, speakers and attendees, and of course the gardeners who continue to make these walled gardens alive and productive, we love visiting and learning from you.

Many thanks must also go to our friends at Alitex who have been supporters of the Network and annual Forum for so many years, and continue to help us to bring walled gardens to fore. We appreciate your ongoing friendship hugely.

The European Symposium for the Conservation of Historic Fruit and Kitchen Gardens is ongoing with our friends of Amis du Potager du Roi and sKBL, and we look forwards to further online lectures (next on 19th January), with another in person event planned in Holland on the 5th and 6th September 2024. See Events page and newsletter for further details.

Forum 2024 – Venue and exact dates will be published in the Spring, but for now please save the date: Friday 11th and Saturday 12th October 2024

The restoration and celebration of walled kitchen gardens has grown immeasurably since Susan Campbell published her first book on walled kitchen gardens in 1987 and with the walled gardens of Gordon Castle in 2021 and Glenarm in 2023 being chosen as winners of Historic Houses, Garden of the Year by public vote, support and understanding is still growing. Finally, an unexpected and thought provoking message appeared at the very end of Plant Earth III episode 7 with David Attenborough walking through the walled gardens at Gravetye Manor.

We look forwards to seeing you in 2024, and send you our very best wishes for a happy and productive New Year

If you have anything you’d like us to share on instagram, just tag @walledkitchengardensnetwork and keep sending us news, stories or job vacancies we might be able to send out on the Grapevine


Lucy Pitman

Thank you very much Zara,
That’s very kind – we certainly aim to be back in Scotland again, and will stay in touch.
Best wishes

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