Berrington Hall's annual harvest
Each year at Berrington our garden team bring in a fresh harvest to be used by our tea-room. There are well over 10 different varieties of vegetables and fruits grown in the Walled Garden over the course of the year, and the time to harvest them is fast approaching.
At this time of year the gardeners are getting ready to collect the fresh harvest which is grown throughout the year in Berrington’s walled garden.
We have a variety of different fruits and vegetables which are growing, ready to be used by the tea-rooms and even taken home by some of our visitors.
One of Berrington’s main harvesting features comes from our orchard which is home a selection of vintage apple trees. These include a range of unusual names, from ‘Maidens Blush’ to ‘Kings Acre Bountiful’.
All of these different varieties are celebrated each year at our apple harvest at our annual ‘Cider Weekend’ in October. They are then either sold through an honesty box in our courtyard or given to the tea-room who uses them to make some seasonal dishes.
As well as apples however we also grow courgettes, late tomatoes, leeks and many more varieties of seasonal vegetables. This is a tradition at Berrington, and the vegetable patch is maintained throughout the year to ensure that the most natural methods for growing them are used.
Head gardener, Nick Winney, stated that he uses natural fertilisers to encourage the growth of the vegetables at Berrington. Every year, this helps all of the fruit and vegetables to grow healthily and in a large quantity.
Having looked at all that grows here at Berrington it becomes clear that it is just as important to remember this history of the walled garden and its uses. This is because we can see how traditions, such as growing fresh produce in the gardens for the kitchens, has been passed through the ages and is still used today.
Berrington Hall’s walled garden is one of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s original designs. In 1780 Brown visited Berrington and began his designs for the layout of the grounds.
Amongst Brown’s lists of scattered trees and a sweeping drives, it is believed that there were designs for both a Kitchen Garden and a Flower Garden, hidden in the southern half of the walled enclosure.
The idea of a Kitchen Garden and using the concealed grounds for the benefit of Berrington’s kitchens has been embraced and used throughout the ages. In the late nineteenth century Berrington was described in Littlebury’s Directory as a “happy combination of undulating verdant meads… [here are] many of the rarest and most brilliant floral specimens of sunnier lands”.
Of course this is referring to the different variety of plants grown at Berrington, but it also encourages the idea that Berrington’s predecessors have used the walled garden to help plants flourish as Brown intended. This included Brown’s idea to include a garden to grow produce to then be used in the kitchens.
It is this connection to the past that the National Trust wants to preserve. This idea has never been stronger here at Berrington, for we are now embarking on the Walled Garden and Pleasure Grounds Restoration Project.
This is a project to restore the grounds to how Brown and Thomas Harley intended. This is especially critical for the semi-circular wall which is attached to the current walled garden is a rare example of a Brown design. This makes it an incredibly important element of Berrington’s gardens.
The importance of this rare wall relates to our harvest too. For historian Jean O’Neill demonstrates that these peculiar shaped walls were designed in order to encourage the growth of fruit. They were a Georgian form of experiment due to the trials of growing food in English conditions, particularly fruit.
This wall therefore demonstrates how Harley and Brown intended the gardens to produce a regular harvest, full of healthy and thriving fresh fruit and vegetables.
This semi-circular wall is in decay and has a critical need for conservation work. Money is raised by the harvest through either; being sold, helping host events such as the Cider Weekend and even by being brought in the tea-room through meals. This money goes towards this crucial conservation and the entire project.
So as the nights draw in, and the harvest is prepared for the autumn equinox, why not come and see if there is anything from Berrington’s gardens that you might enjoy?