National Trust GARDENS and FOOD
First Orchard Officer Starts Work
This autumn, the fruit trees in the mature orchard at Cotehele will be brimming with apples and thanks to a local couple, many more of the Tamar Valley’s threatened varieties of apple, cherry and pear will bear fruit at Cotehele in the future. Cotehele’s Mother Orchard Project is a project to preserve and protect varieties of fruit trees only found in the Tamar Valley - an area famed for its temperate climate and rich market garden history. The Mother Orchard will be planted with around 120 different varieties this autumn and this will be overseen by the Trust’s first ever Orchard Officer, Chris Groves. Chris’ post will last initially for one year and his work will include involving the local community in the management of the orchard. The project has relied on the passion and dedication of a local couple, Mary Martin and James Evans who have gathered as many as 250 varieties in their spare time and have spent the last 25 years saving threatened varieties in the Tamar Valley. The Trust is inviting people to come and plant a tree in the orchard or to present it to a friend or family member as a gift. The donations received per tree (min £30) will help to maintain the orchard.
Don’t forget that the famous Cotehele Garland, made from dried flowers grown in the garden, will be on display in the Great Hall this Christmas. Cotehele’s gardeners can be seen building the garland from 12 – 23 November (except 17&18 Nov) and the hall remains open for it to be seen in its full glory from 23 November – 23 December.
National Trust offers best steak pie in the country!
Sarah Peukert, second chef at The National Trust’s Old Rectory Restaurant, Wimpole Hall, Royston, Hertfordshire has been crowned Steak Pie Champion 2007 in the English Beef and Lamb Executive’s (EBLEX) national competition.
During a nerve-wracking cook-off final round, Sarah fought off five other finalists to claim the honour of serving one of the best steak pies in England with her ‘Wimpole’s Raised Steak and Mushroom Pie’.
Sarah was over the moon when she was presented with her prize by Lord Rooker, Minister of State (Lords) (Sustainable Farming and Food) and Hugh Judd, EBLEX foodservice project manager. She said: “I can’t believe it, I’m still shaking! Although I reached the final two years ago, I didn’t win, so I was determined to concentrate on creating the perfect pie and give myself the best chance of winning this year.
“For me that means sourcing the best quality ingredients available – the meat in particular has to be tasty, succulent and tender. As we source all our meat from Wimpole farm on the Wimpole Hall estate which specialises in rare breeds, I had every confidence that it would deliver in the final.”
Head chef Keith Goodwin, who was supporting Sarah on the day said: “Since entering the first EBLEX Steak Pie competition, Sarah has been on a two year mission to create the perfect pie! She is passionate about flavour and passionate about presentation – and that has clearly come through today. We are all very proud of her and absolutely delighted that she has won.”
Improvements at Clumber Park
The improvements to Clumber Park’s Walled Kitchen Garden are nearing completion and the results are clear to see. The developments include the restoration of the garden as well as the introduction of a range of new interpretation features to help people enjoy their visit. The work has been possible thanks to a £150,000 grant from the European Regional Development Fund Objective Two, which has been supported by the Alliance Sub Strategic Partnership.
The 450ft long range glasshouse, the longest anywhere within the National Trust, has been restored through a programme of reglazing, repainting and replacing rotting timber and corroded iron work. In addition to this a visual display has also been installed which shows past and present images of the garden, its gardeners and relates the history of the Walled Kitchen Garden through the 20th and 21st Centuries.
Families have been taking advantage of special new tracker packs which have been developed specifically for them. The packs have been designed to help them explore the garden and are contained within a practical rucksack. They contain activities to help them learn about produce and crops within the garden and also have all the equipment needed including crayons, a thermometer, a compass and even a cuddly friend to keep them company on their journey around the garden!
In addition to all this, a new audio guide has been developed that enables visitors to take a self guided tour of the gardens. The tour explains how crops were grown in the garden in the past to provide produce all year round and how the garden is run today.
At present work is being carried out to restore the walls of the Walled Kitchen Garden. The final stage of improvements is planned for the winter and includes the upgrading of the path network in the Pleasure Garden to improve access.
Growing Roots: The National Trust and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to launch new project
Growing Roots is a three year collaborative project between Kew and the National Trust, working with garden properties in the South East. It will research and develop plant-based interpretation and learning resources aimed at young families and schools.
Project managers, Christine Newton, Head of Learning at Wakehurst Place, and Anita Goodwin, Regional Learning Officer for the National Trust, are very excited about the project and the opportunities it will bring. Look out for ‘Growing Roots’ activities for both families and schools which will be trialed at properties over the coming months.
‘The Nymans Collection’
This summer marked the launch of the new ‘Nymans Collection’, a selection of plants grown at Nymans for sale only at Nymans.
Property Manager, Simon Lee says: “Visitors are always asking if they can buy plants they've seen in the garden and we do already sell many of them. However, we are now really excited to be extending what’s on offer to include plants actually grown here at Nymans by our Garden Team. Growing plants here will save the cost and environmental impact of transporting them from nurseries elsewhere. We are also proud to grow them in peat free compost, which reduces the damage being done to sensitive habitats where peat is extracted.“
Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens for the National Trust adds: “This new development offers gardeners an opportunity to take home some of the many beautiful and important plants growing at Nymans. The Trust gardens peat free to reduce our impact on peat bogs in the UK. Peat is a finite resource and its continued depletion leads to the loss of irreplaceable archaeological remains and the disappearance of wildlife habitats, as well as being important as a natural store for carbon dioxide – the main contributor to global warming and climate change.”
‘The Nymans Collection’ will now enable all visitors to the garden to take a little piece of it home with them. Initially it will consist of a variety of Salvias and Penstenon, but will be extended over the coming years.
The Return of Mercury
A splendid replica of a bust of the Roman god Mercury completes one of Stowe’s most famous landmarks.
The Temple of British Worthies is one of the most intriguing and enigmatic monuments in Stowe Landscape Gardens. It features characters from British history that Lord Cobham, owner of Stowe and creator of its famous gardens, felt were worthy of entry to Stowe’s very own Elysian Fields. Their souls would be escorted by the Roman god Mercury, as they were in the ancient world.
The original bust of Mercury which tops the temple disappeared eighty years ago and has never been found. This replica, created by carver Tim Lees out of Portland stone, was made possible by a donation from the daughter and son-in-law of the late Tom Chinnery who was a volunteer at Stowe for many years.
This work is part of a massive restoration programme at Stowe, one of the first and finest of the great English landscape gardens of the 18th century.
Restoration of 18th century garden continues at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire.
A series of guided tours gave visitors a sneak preview this summer of Quarry Bank Mill’s ‘secret’ 18th century garden, as work continues to prepare it for opening in spring 2008. Paths are being cleared of decades of undergrowth, and many original features, such has terraces and viewpoints are re-appearing.
The 8 acre garden was created by the Mill’s founder, Samuel Greg at the end of the 18th century, together with his house. Both were acquired by the Trust in December 2006 and are a superb example of the early industrial revolution when mill owners sited their homes adjacent to the source of their wealth – despite what must have been a noisy, smelly location!
The acquisition of Quarry Bank House and garden mean that the cotton mill complex as Greg envisaged it in the 18th century is now complete. A wonderful selection of archive photographs is helping in the restoration project.
Quarry Bank Garden is set to open next year as a major part of Cheshire Year of Gardens 2008.
Pineapples from Cheshire?!
Sophie, Countess of Wessex opened Tatton Park’s newly restored Pinery earlier this year. 120 feet in length and now restored to its 18th century glory, the Pinery is the final piece in the jigsaw completing restoration of Tatton’s six-acre walled kitchen gardens. Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cheshire County Council and the National Trust, it is hoped that up to 300 pineapples could be grown at Tatton, and that home-grown pineapples will eventually feature on the restaurant menu.
Cliveden by Night
This autumn, visitors can experience Cliveden as never before when its ornate gates open for special evening openings from 22 to 27 October.
Spectacular floodlighting will pick out stunning vistas, formal gardens and the celebrated Italianate parterre. Cliveden’s outstanding collection of sculpture and statuary from ancient and modern worlds will be re-cast in a luminous and magical form.
‘Starlight’- one of Europe’s leading lighting companies will transform many areas of the garden with beautiful effects, presenting one of the National Trust’s most famous gardens in a whole new light!
Cliveden by Night takes place 22 to 27 October, from 7pm to 9.30pm. Entry to NT members is free and refreshments are available throughout. For further information call the Cliveden Estate Office on 01628 605069.
Barry Receives High Honour
Barry Champion, Head Gardener at Trelissick has been awarded The Goodman Challenge Cup for outstanding achievement in Cornish horticulture by the Cornwall Garden Society.
Barry has worked for the Trust for more than 25 years and during this time he has done a great deal to support and promote Cornish horticulture in and outside of his work with the Trust. Barry also holds an Associate of Honour from the Royal Horticulture Society in recognition of distinguished service in horticulture. Only 100 are held at any one time in the country.
Hidcote Manor Garden centenary news
The Head Gardener at Hidcote will be cycling from Lawrence Johnston’s other garden in the south of France, Serre de la Madonne, to Hidcote in September to raise funds for the restoration.
Thrive at The Vyne
There is much more to see and enjoy in the Walled Garden at The Vyne, near Basingstoke, thanks to the work of Thrive, a national charity that promotes gardening to help change the lives of disabled people.
The team of volunteers from Thrive have been transforming the Walled Garden from a somewhat dull and lifeless area, into a colourful and productive kitchen garden.
The herbaceous borders are now a riot of colour and the first of several new vegetable patches is well-established, with the produce being used in The Vyne’s Brewhouse Restaurant.
Head Gardener Nick Lightfoot says: “The volunteers from Thrive have made a huge contribution to the restoration of the Walled Garden. They have gained confidence and a sense of purpose in the community, but we have also gained a great deal so it is a fantastic initiative all round.”
Visitors to The Vyne this autumn will also be able to see the recreation of a 70’ long Victorian-style glass house in the Walled Garden, part open to visitors, and part a working area for plant production. Funds for this ambitious project have been raised by the property, largely through volunteer donations and volunteer groups.
Dunster Castle celebrates strawberries in the autumn. For a woodland celebration of a different kind, the strawberry trees fruit from mid October onwards. Dunster Castle holds the National Collection of Arbutus – strawberry trees. The fruit resemble the summer strawberry but are not edible although they are made into alcoholic drinks in some parts of the world.
South Somerset apple juice
This year a local Somerset company will be producing South Somerset apple juice, made from National Trust apples. A series of three harvests will be taking place at Trust orchards, with staff, volunteers and community groups all working together to pick the crop. Each harvest will produce a different mix of apples and we will record this so that we there will potentially be three different apple juices on offer.
As this is the first year we have attempted this we are still unsure exactly what the final outcome will be, but we have every reason to believe that the final product will be delicious!
As well as local produce and local labour the product will be entirely natural as we have elected not to introduce vitamin C which is often used to create a clear juice. Our juice will be naturally cloudy. We are aiming for a bottle production in the low thousands, and most of the juice will be sold through the Barrington and Montacute restaurants, as well as at Lytes Cary and Tintinhull.