Gibside's Walled Garden

From an overgrown field home to four goats, to a car park and now an ever growing glorious Walled Garden.

Some years back it would have been hard to imagine the vibrant flowers, lush green grass, busy groups tending to their veg plots and a wide open space open to all.

However, Gibside's Walled Garden wasn't always quite as welcoming as it is now.

When the National Trust acquired what is now the Walled Garden in 1993 it was an overgrown field, used on busy days as an overflow car park. It was actually home to four goats - Blossom, Bramble, Eric and Sabrina - who kept the grass down and had to be coaxed back into their pen with polos by the now Visitor Reception Manager, Richard Bradley.

The Walled Garden was overgrown and home to four goats
Picture of the now Walled Garden overgrown
The Walled Garden was overgrown and home to four goats

As Gibside grew and became more popular, so did the need for more car parking spaces and the field became an official car park.

Quite a change to what the Walled Garden looks like now
Cars parked in what is now the Walled Garden
Quite a change to what the Walled Garden looks like now

Making a change...

In 2013 the new car park (where we all park now) was finally complete and the Visitor Reception team moved next to the walkway.

The old car park or field was planted with Phacelia to encourage nutrients into the ground and then returfed. The soil from the new car park area was used in the new Walled Garden and the Trust began to develop a plan for this space.

All was going well... then in the same year, the good ole’ British weather came along taking down the North West wall.

In September 2015 the first phase of the wall rebuild took place, but only with the help of the volunteers who spent 10 months hand-cleaning 300 year old bricks which were re-used from the same wall.

By taking on this task they saved the National Trust roughly £4,375, otherwise every single brick - which they cleaned free from mortar, polished and then stacked ready for use, one by one - would need to be custom made and ordered externally since this particular type is no longer made.

Join a team of super volunteers!
Volunteers cleaning bricks for the new wall
Join a team of super volunteers!

The now

Now, there's rows of apple trees planted (where historic tree plates were discovered under the "car park" soil) and 30 vegetable plots have been created - all being used by local people and community groups including mental health charities, four schools and a rehabilitation service. 

Lots of vegetables are now grown in the Walled Garden
Beetroot in the garden
Lots of vegetables are now grown in the Walled Garden

There’s wildlife aplenty; an observation hive has been installed, there's bats roosting in the walls and the great crested-newt is always present but hides quite a lot.

With Gibside’s first ever Head Gardener since Mary Eleanor’s reign - you can read more about Gibside's story by clicking on the link below - and a newly appointed Walled Garden Project Officer we’re looking forward to setting off on yet another journey to further grow this garden.

You can see Head Gardener Debbie in the video at the top of the page talking about the Walled Garden.

Gibside’s Walled Garden: Redesign. Renew. Revive

In 2015 a new two year HLF project was launched with the aim of reviving the area as well as engaging visitors with this 18th Century estate’s history.

Project Officer Deborah Hunter-Knight will work with Head Gardener, Debbie Crombie, to carry out essential path repairs, install new seating and create inspiring interpretation.  

The HLF project is an important element within a wider garden redevelopment plan at Gibside. It will deliver an educational and engaging programme which includes a range of new tours, ‘meet the expert’ sessions, art installations and strengthening links with local universities, schools and groups.

Through this project, a rather fascinating fact about pineapples was discovered and explored.