Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Walled Gardens: An Organic and Picturesque Plot at Old-Lands in Wales

Search

Walled Gardens: An Organic and Picturesque Plot at Old-Lands in Wales

June 28, 2017

“I’d always had this dream of having my own walled garden, so when this came up I couldn’t resist,” says Colum Pawson, who in the past 18 months has transformed a magical space at the Welsh Old-Lands estate into a thriving vegetable garden, with a veg box scheme, an on-site shop and now gardening courses on offer too. We took a tour of this abundant and picturesque plot:

Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer for Gardenista.

When Sam and Clare Bosanquet took over the running of a family-owned estate in Monmouthshire, Wales  months ago, the walled garden had been run largely as an ornamental garden for a couple of decades.
Above: When Sam and Clare Bosanquet took over the running of a family-owned estate in Monmouthshire, Wales 18 months ago, the walled garden had been run largely as an ornamental garden for a couple of decades.
Foxgloves in bloom.
Above: Foxgloves in bloom.

Previously it had been a traditional vegetable and fruit garden and, as such, had amazing soil that had been improved with manure and compost over generations.

 The Bosanquets knew they wouldn’t be able to maintain the kitchen garden as well as the vast house, which had been owned by Sam’s family since 0src=
Above: The Bosanquets knew they wouldn’t be able to maintain the kitchen garden as well as the vast house, which had been owned by Sam’s family since 1801. The solution was to place a Facebook ad to find someone who could. They received many hundreds of replies and myriad ideas but Colum, who had over a decade’s experience in organic growing, was chosen to take over the plot.

See more of the gardens at Old-Lands: A Modern Welsh Garden from a Bygone Age.

 “The soil is incredible,” says Colum. “It’s a completely different color to the soil in the surrounding fields and I haven’t yet found anything that I can’t grow here.”
Above: “The soil is incredible,” says Colum. “It’s a completely different color to the soil in the surrounding fields and I haven’t yet found anything that I can’t grow here.”

Colum’s first job was to remove the plants that had been so carefully tended by Sam’s mother. “It was a wrench to clear it all out—it was a beautiful garden,” says Colum, who relocated the plants into a new courtyard garden by the main house.

The warm brick walls are a perfect spot to train espaliered fruit trees.
Above: The warm brick walls are a perfect spot to train espaliered fruit trees.

The whole garden is no dig (Old-Lands has just started hosting gardening workshops with the No Dig guru Charles Dowding) which is a principle that Colum has followed for many years and which reduces the workload of the garden. But maintaining this vast space is still a huge task with just a couple of volunteers for a half day each week.

Irises bloom beside the original glass houses in the walled garden.
Above: Irises bloom beside the original glass houses in the walled garden.

Everything is grown from seed in the Victorian greenhouses. The brick wall at the back of the greenhouse keeps it warm year round.

 After the seedlings are transplanted in spring, the glasshouses are used as a space to grow heat-loving plants including chilies, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Above: After the seedlings are transplanted in spring, the glasshouses are used as a space to grow heat-loving plants including chilies, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
An artichoke in the spring garden.
Above: An artichoke in the spring garden.

This year the growing area has been extended. The orchard—which grows apples used for making the estate’s apple juice—now also houses a couple of polytunnels and another growing space and Colum has also taken on another half acre in a nearby field.

Extra protection for tender seedlings.
Above: Extra protection for tender seedlings.

To maintain the year-round veg box (part of the Community Assisted Agriculture scheme), Colum has had to increase the amount of winter vegetables too: with brassicas, leeks, and squash.

Other than the allure of an old walled garden, Colum and his wife, Cathi, who runs a forest school on the estate, were drawn to the traditional way of life here.
Above: Other than the allure of an old walled garden, Colum and his wife, Cathi, who runs a forest school on the estate, were drawn to the traditional way of life here.

Their two young daughters have room to roam, a lake to swim in, and acres to explore: “It’s a lovely place to grow up and that was one of the main considerations for us. There’s something that kids get growing up in the country that you cannot replicate, an awareness of nature that is quite special.”

N.B.: For more insider tips for maximizing the yield from your edible garden, see:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

From our network