Our top kitchen gardens
When it comes to self sustainability, we're leading the way at many of our kitchen gardens.
From keeping rare breed chickens to growing organic Georgian prickly cucumbers, the fully working kitchen gardens on our estates are great places to witness the ‘plot to plate’ revolution.
To experience a slice of the good life and learn how easy, fun and interesting it is to grow your own produce, you may like to visit some of our top kitchen gardens:
Attingham’s walled kitchen garden is an excellent example of a late 18th-century kitchen garden estate. Spanning two acres it includes a large walled fruit and vegetable garden and three newly restored glasshouses, offering a feast of surprises such as the blue coco bean.
Other intriguing garden finds include the white icicle radish and the long, prickly cucumber, both of which date from the 18th century.
An extra must-see feature of the kitchen garden is the Grade II listed Georgian bee house, where busy bees making award-winning honey can be observed in safety from behind a Perspex screen.
All produce grown within the red brick walls of the garden is organic and used to supply the Carriage House Café with seasonal, sustainable food.
One of the first kitchen gardens to be renovated by the National Trust in 1995, Beningbrough’s one and a half acre Victorian walled garden is home to a myriad of fruit, vegetable and salad varieties including the exotic salad leaf, oriental mizuna, which has a sweet rocket-like taste.
Everything grown in the kitchen garden contributes to the menu of the Walled Garden Restaurant with popular treats including the moist beetroot cake and the fragrant lavender scones.
Visitors interested in finding out more about the delicious and unusual produce grown at Beningbrough can enjoy an hour long tour with a garden guide.
Don’t forget to enjoy the orchard too – it has over 50 varieties of apples and a striking avenue of pears to walk under – just make sure you wear a hat if you visit in autumn.
It may not be the oldest of kitchen gardens but it certainly has enough history to be in our top ten.
This was the kitchen garden that supplied No. 10 Downing Street with a fresh supply of fruit and vegetables during the war years - and the brick wall that surrounds it was laid by Churchill himself.
Restored in 2006, at least 50 per cent of the produce grown in the walled kitchen garden at Chartwell is a heritage variety, whilst other intriguing produce like yellow marrows are being grown this year.
There are also 50 apple trees, plus a wide variety of plums, greengages, nectarines, cherries, pears, damson and currants.
Step back in time and immerse yourself in Knightshayes’ two and a half acre walled kitchen garden with fairytale turrets, specialising in varieties of produce grown in Victorian times. It offers a unique chance to see a vast collection of crops which are now almost extinct – including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes.
The Outside In garden is a 100 foot long poly-tunnel dedicated to growing heritage vegetables, fruit and flowers - the seeds from which are saved to ensure their survival.
The kitchen garden supplies the restaurant and Tiverton town market all year round, providing rare vegetables such as oca, mashua and achoccha, alongside treats like Knightshayes chutney.
Younger visitors can enjoy the pizza making workshop, where they are shown how to harvest and top their pizzas with freshly picked vegetables.
Originally the home to the Dukes of Newcastle, the 3,800 acre estate has its own fully restored and working four acre walled kitchen garden.
Previously used in the war as a market garden, today the garden is home to 100 varieties of rhubarb, rocambole garlic and scorzonera – which is similar to an artichoke.
It also has a large orchard, where 58 local apple varieties are grown such as the famous Bramley and the not so famous but equally tasty Nottinghamshire Pippin.
When exploring the kitchen garden you may come across a purple cauliflower or a blue potato – but if not, don’t worry, you can always make your way to the restaurant and sample the taste there.
Hughenden was the secret location where the Royal Air Force planned its famous Second World War Dam Buster mission, so to feed hungry stomachs and busy brains, a fully working kitchen garden was needed.
In this Victorian example, you will find all sorts of unusual fruit and vegetables, including 57 varieties of apples. It even has a ‘veg of the month’ and an apple store that was previously an old stone bunker used during the war.
It's now part of a community gardening scheme, with children and families using the garden to grow their own fruit and veg. Education Officer Martin Steven says “It’s a garden for everyone”, and if you’re lucky enough you'll find volunteers handing out free seeds for you to take home.
Tatton’s walled kitchen garden reflects an almost forgotten era. From mushroom sheds and onion stores to barns and glasshouses, all have been restored to their former use.
Here you'll find historical ‘Scarlet Emperor’ runner beans, local ‘British Queen’ potatoes and quirky ‘Fat Lazy Blonde’ lettuces and other typically Edwardian types of fruit and vegetables growing, which can all be purchased or eaten on the estate when in season.
Head Gardener Sam Youd makes sure that all the plants grown in the walled kitchen garden meet certain criteria – that they are grown free of chemicals and that they would only have been grown up until 1900, making the garden a piece of living history.
Llanerchaeron is a rare example of a self sufficient 18th century Welsh estate which has survived virtually unaltered.
The organic, two acre walled kitchen garden has been continually worked for 200 years and is so fertile that apple trees around 170 years old are still standing strong.
Everything in the kitchen garden is slow grown and seasonal, meaning the produce is plump, juicy and extra tasty.
The colourful herb garden is not to be missed – herbs for culinary, medicinal and household use are grown here, just as it would have been in the old days.
In an experimental corner of the garden, you will find vegetables growing that normally only grow in hotter climes – from cape gooseberries to red peppers. When wandering around the garden, take a moment to look carefully and you might spot the delicious golden raspberries or an unusual stripy bean.
The organic four and a half acre walled kitchen garden at Wimpole was constructed in the 1790s for the third Earl of Hardwick, and no expense was spared - even the walls are heated to keep peaches warm during the spring frosts.
The orchard is equally as impressive, containing apple, pear, apricot, plum, greengage, medlar and quince crops – all of which are used in the estate’s shop and restaurant.
There are around 50 types of tomatoes to be found, including Green Zebra and Banana Cream, which are celebrated at the popular Wimpole Tomato Festival in September each year.
Other interesting sights are the apple store, mushroom house and potting shed – all of which are being restored – and the famous Ying Yang bean with it’s peculiar black and white markings.
The 200 year old walled kitchen garden at Trengwainton was built to the dimensions of Noah’s Ark, but instead of saving animals its cargo seems to be full of organic produce instead.
There's a section entirely devoted to pumpkins – black, red and orange. There's also an allotment section, where vegetables and salads are grown in meticulously straight lines, and a container section where you'll find fruit plants growing out of old wellington boots.
For little ones, the kid’s community garden helps young visitors see the process of plot to plate.