Top kitchen gardens

To mark the new film adaptation of The Secret Garden released on 23 October, we’re celebrating the bountiful kitchen gardens we look after with your support.

From keeping rare breed chickens to growing organic Georgian prickly cucumbers, the working kitchen gardens on our estates are great places to witness the ‘plot to plate’ revolution.

What's more, some of the sustainable and seasonal produce grown in our kitchen gardens is used in the fresh dishes served in our cafés.

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.

Various edible plants growing in the Kitchen Garden in June at Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall

The kitchen garden, Attingham Park, Shropshire 

This two-acre 18th-century kitchen garden is feast of surprises. You’ll find some intriguing vegetables and fruit, from the blue coco bean to the prickly cucumber.

Cold frames and a glasshouse in the Kitchen Garden at Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire

The kitchen garden, Beningbrough Hall, Yorkshire 

As one of the first kitchen gardens to be renovated, this Victorian walled garden is home to a large variety of produce, including over 50 varieties of apple. Also, keep your eyes open for plants like liquorice, grapes and figs.

The kitchen garden at Chartwell, a National Trust property in Kent

The kitchen garden, Chartwell, Kent 

From seasonal fruit and veg to bright, beautiful flowers and clucking chickens, this 1920s walled garden gives us an intimate piece of history.

The glasshouses in the Kitchen Garden at Clumber Park

The kitchen garden, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire 

Originally home to the Dukes of Newcastle, this kitchen garden is home to the longest glass house in our care and 100 varieties of rhubarb, rocambole garlic and scorzonera, as well as a blue potato.

A bench in Hughenden's walled garden

The walled garden at Hughenden 

Uniquely set on a gentle slope, this sheltered garden is perfect for growing apricots, fig, pears and an old traditional English samson plum - the Aylesbury prune.

Gardeners working in the walled garden

The kitchen garden at Knightshayes 

There’s always an abundance of fruit and vegetables growing in this fairy-tale turreted kitchen garden. It’s home to a vast collection of crops including over 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes.

A view from the bottom of our veg garden

The kitchen garden, Sissinghurst Castle, Kent 

A world-famous garden in its own right, this kitchen garden was created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson and is more than just a few vegetables.

The restored kitchen garden at Tatton Park, Cheshire

The kitchen garden, Tatton Park, Cheshire 

As a truly living piece of history, the garden produces varieties that were grown before 1900, including ‘Scarlet Emperor’ runner beans, local ‘British Queen’ potatoes and may other Edwardian fruits and vegetables.

The Kitchen Garden in June at Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall

The kitchen garden, Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall 

Built to the supposed dimensions of Noah’s Ark, this beautifully maintained 200-year-old walled garden has a section entirely devoted to pumpkins and has a kid’s community garden.

The Walled Garden in July at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire

The kitchen garden, Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire 

With an impressive orchard full of apple, pear, plum and medlar crops, as well as around 50 types of tomatoes including the Green Zebra and Banana Cream, this organic walled kitchen has many more rare varieties and period features.

What's in season in our kitchen gardens?
Cabbage plants for sale at Morden Hall Park Garden Centre

What's in season: November 

Potatoes, red cabbage, carrots and cauliflower are just some of the fresh produce you can get in November. We've got tips on buying and harvesting seasonal vegetables and delicious recipes to use them in.

How your donations help

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.



Restoration stories

kitchen gardener picking crops in the kitchen garden at KNightshayes

Knightshayes, Devon

Having fallen into decline after the First World War, the garden had become overgrown and too expensive to maintain. In 1999, a project was undertaken to restore the kitchen garden to its former glory and by 2003 it was fully productive again. Through the continuation of donations for its ongoing restoration, we’re looking to rebuild one of the original Victorian glass houses.

Walled garden at Blickling

Blickling, Norfolk

This derelict walled garden has been transformed, thanks largely to money raised through sales at the property’s second-hand bookshop. The garden has been little more than a grass field for 25 years, but with an incredible £134,000 raised through book sales in 2016 and 2017, it's now a haven teeming with fruit and vegetable crops.

Raised beds planted with vegetales and a pergola in the Kitchen Garden at Mottisfont

Mottisfont, Hampshire

The restoration of this evolving kitchen garden was made possible from the donations to the Walled Garden Appeal. Today, developments and improvements to this garden haven’t stopped thanks to small donations from daily harvests of vegetables, herbs and cut flowers that visitors can pick up. These funds have also helped to run our garden apprentice scheme.