In England, we're pleased to have been able to keep our gardens, parks and outdoor spaces open through the current lockdown. From 2 December, we'll be able to reopen some houses and welcome you to sit in our cafés again. In tier 3, indoor areas will remain closed and cafés will be takeaway only. Please follow your area's tiering system and government guidance when planning a visit.
Following Welsh government guidance, all places in Wales are now open for Wales residents, and we're pleased to be welcoming many of you again.
In line with Northern Ireland Executive circuit break restrictions, our gardens and parks in Northern Ireland will open from 28 November. All houses, shops and visitor centres will stay closed during the circuit break until 11 December, and cafés will be takeaway only.
Before visiting, please always check local and national government guidance on travelling. You can check the property webpage in case of local restrictions. We're following government advice closely and will reopen more places as soon as we can.
We’re still working hard to keep our gardens looking their best. But with fewer staff and volunteers to help out, things may look a little different on your visit. Please bear with us as we adjust to these challenging times.
Many decades ago, a lot of kitchen gardens had fallen into disuse and disrepair. In recent years, we’ve been able to restore these gardens thanks to you, our members, supporters and visitors.
Your support and generosity has helped develop gardens that are not only thriving with fresh produce but are also enjoyable days out and educational tools for volunteers and local communities.
Restoring a walled garden
Restoring a walled kitchen garden can take many years.The walls might be crumbling and need repointing or rebuilding. Paths have often been ploughed up or even concreted. Underground there are complex drainage systems that collect rainwater from rooves or redirect streams into a central dipping pool.
The ancillary buildings connected with a walled garden are fascinating and all have a specific purpose. Glass house, mushroom house, root store, boiler room and bothy all need careful research and restoration.
Once all this is in hand, the crucial job of preparing the soil can begin. Sometimes it has been contaminated with waste or overrun with perennial weeds. With any luck a couple of years of growing green manures will bring it back to good health. Pigs have even been deployed as living ploughs at the walled garden at Attingham Park in Shropshire.
Returning the fruit trees to the walls really marks the turning point in these complex and rewarding restoration projects. Once the apricots, peaches, pears and cherries are back, you really know that life is returning to a cherished part of our horticultural heritage
With your continued donations to look after the gardens in our care, we can ensure that gardens like these can go on providing seasonal and sustainable food as well as benefit those who visit now and in the future.