Parke's secret garden

The walled garden at National Trust, Parke, Devon

Peer through the portholes on the locked doors and you'll see a haven of tranquility. Within its whitewashed walls you can find raised beds; herbaceous borders; fruit tree fans, cordons, espaliers and even grape vines; an alternative orchard planted with quince, medlar, dwarf pomegranate and kiwi fruit.

Background

The walled garden's tended by hardy souls from the Bovey Community Gardeners (part of Bovey Climate Action) on Wednesdays and alternate Saturdays and Sundays.  On Thursdays, dedicated National Trust volunteers are hard at work.

The lower plots have been given over to the community gardeners whilst the National Trust volunteers look after the fruit trees and herbaceous borders.

We all try to be as sustainable as possible. Water to the garden comes from a well, rediscovered in 2007 and is pumped using solar power to a 10,000 litre tank which feeds all the taps. We use no artificial fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides, using manure from the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust as well as using nettle and comfrey tea to help our produce grow. Companion planting reduces the need to weed and the wildlife area running through the middle of the garden provides shelter, cover and food for invertebrates, mammals, amphibians and birds that help us in our quest against slugs and snails, as well as other unwanted pests.

Work has recently been completed to re-make the path network, which replicates how the garden would have originally been laid out when it was built in the 1820s by William Hole.

Produce

The produce grown by the community gardeners is shared between those that toil the earth, whilst fruit and flowers supply Home Farm café. Proceeds raised from the sale of fruit and veg is ploughed back into seeds for future growth, to ensure that the walled garden remains in green hands.

Where and when

To get to the main entrance of the walled garden, follow the path from the car park down passed the café and go up the track on the left.

Historically, the walled garden has only been open to the public at limited times of the day. However through the fantastic team work of the Bovey Community Gardeners and the National Trust, you can now view the garden whenever there are staff on site which will be almost seven days a week.

If you're interested in volunteering in the walled garden please contact Steve Ellis (Ranger) on 01626 834748 or parke@nationaltrust.org.uk.