The Ornamental Vegetable Garden at Osterley Park and House

An ornamental vegetable garden with Osterley's stables in the background

One of the chief glories at Osterley is the Tudor Walled Garden. Over the years, the gardening team have turned it from a derelict patch of ground to an organic Ornamental Vegetable Garden. This is an area where the garden team experiment with interesting yet ephemeral planting styles.

Head Gardener Andy explains what his team have been doing.

"We have four plots with one given over to more traditional cropping, albeit using the most colourful and interesting varieties that we can find. The second is mainly a pumpkin patch for our annual festival at Halloween with some other American plants grown such as sweetcorn and tithonia and sunflowers for colour. The last two plots are where we are at our most creative and they are a mix of brassicas, dahlias, antirrhinums, zinnias and amaranths (which self-sow quite liberally)."

The Ornamental Veg Garden from the air
An aerial view of the Ornamental Vegetable Garden at Osterley
The Ornamental Veg Garden from the air

"With an over the top array of every kind of tropical growing and flowering annual and perennial including dahlias, nicotianas, ipomea, ricinus, cleome, cannas and many others. These are all liberally sprinkled through with attractive coloured forms of kale such ‘Nero di Toscana’; ‘Redbore’ and ‘Red Russian’, with their leaves forming the perfect foil for the flowers (including dark red Zinnia ‘Benary’s Form’ & Antirrhinum ‘Defiance’) and of course providing winter cropping for our café" says Andy.

Some freshly picked vegetables
Several vegetables in a basket
Some freshly picked vegetables

"We also create tall structures using hazel, cut from our copses, to grow annuals such as Quamoclit lobate, Spanish Flag and Cobaea scandens both in the purple and white forms. To add more formal structure to this feature we built some wooden obelisks which were painted egg yolk yellow for dramatic effect, so that they would show up amongst all the brilliant coloured flowers and foliage rather that disappearing in to it. So in the summer with sweet pea varieties ‘Beaujolais’ and ‘Noel Sutton’ growing up them or bright blue morning glory in the autumn they provide an anchor point for the design."

The Ornamental Vegetable Garden at Osterley Park and House, London
The Ornamental Vegetable Garden at Osterley Park and House, Middlesex, in September, with the Stables seen in the background.
The Ornamental Vegetable Garden at Osterley Park and House, London

"It has always been our intention to zone the garden into three different areas so as to plan a peak of display for our visitors throughout the year and as this walled garden is designed to peak through late summer and on through the autumn. We have also recently planted a late summer perennial border against the western wall. This is planted with salvias, penstemons, croscosmia, gladiolus and kniphofias all in sharp, bright colour so that they mix with one another in a good ‘clash’ rather than trying to mix bright with pastel. There are some other incidents of colour throughout the year such as tulips, polyanthus and Lathyrus vernus in the spring followed by baptisia and crocosmias ‘Yellow & Mango Popsicle’, in early summer, then Honey Spurge Euphorbia mellifera takes over providing evergreen structure through the winter months," Andy says.

Dahlias at Osterley
Orange dahlias
Dahlias at Osterley

"There is also a Long Border at the top of this walled garden which is more traditionally planted with shrubs and perennials for all season display and includes an interesting collection of budlejas that I have put together over the years such as Agathosma, Globosa and the wonderful colvilei ’Kewensis’ with ruby red grape-like bunches of flowers."

Looking to visit the Ornamental Vegetable Garden? It's at its best from late August through to October. The Gardens are open from 10am-5pm, with last entry at 4.30pm. Ask our Kiosk team to point you in the right direction.