Lamb House garden notes

Back of the house in the garden

Welcome to the Garden at Lamb House. We know very little about the history of the garden, but we know that it was cherished by both Henry James and EF Benson. We know that the produce grown by their gardener George Gammon was much prized, so we have continued to grow fruit, vegetables and cut flowers and continue to bring the garden back to life.

This year we have been undertaking research about the garden, we know that the Campisis radicans that adorned the south side of the house in James’ time was important, so we have planted a new one to replace what has been lost. More garden research will be carried out over the coming months before we settle our ideas for the garden. It is likely that much will change in the coming years, but in the meantime, we try to provide a tranquil space that makes up in ambience what it loses in horticultural integrity.

At the moment the Kitchen Garden is the highlight.

Due to the amount of intensive labour required in the garden at the beginning of the year, we were a little late in planting and sowing our first crops.  As a result, we worried that the veg patches wouldn’t fill up and that we’d always be lagging behind.  We needn’t have worried.  The soil in the kitchen garden has been worked for more than 150 years, so it is fantastic – free draining and moisture retentive, a gardener’s dream!  The position too is ideal. It is sheltered by walls and hedges on all sides and benefits from the sun all day, so it was very quick to warm in the spring and has retained that heat ever since. As a result we have had bumper crops of beetroot, carrots and lettuce and we have plenty more on the way. I am particularly looking forward to the big juicy onions that are swelling daily and the squashes and pumpkins that threaten to take over the garden.

The vegetable garden at Lamb house in June
The vegetable garden at Lamb house in June
The vegetable garden at Lamb house in June

Of course we have had setbacks too. With our attention turned to the molluscs we took our eyes off the sky and it wasn’t until our peas had been almost entirely demolished that we took action against the pigeons that wrought their destruction. We didn’t want to net the peas completely because it makes them so much harder to harvest and looks particularly ugly, so we have used wire netting to prevent the pigeons from landing and thus far it has prevented the terrible violence that they visited upon our poor peas.  The plants will take time to recover, but we are confident that we have outwitted the cunning pigeons…for now.

The soft fruit was also picked off by birds. This is perhaps more predictable, and we should have built a fruit cage from the start, but with so much to do, this task was pushed to the back of the queue.  As a result we have very full and happy blackbirds, but very few gooseberries, blackcurrants or redcurrants. We only hope the birds enjoyed them and that they will feel a sense of loyalty to Lamb House from now on.

The garden is looked after by two gardeners twice a week, with help from a team of industrious and fearless volunteers.  If you think you could help at a National Trust property, please apply online, or ask at the visitor reception desk for more information.

We hope you enjoy our garden.