Reviving the walled garden
Discover how a garden once forgotten was lovingly brought back to life through the hard work and dedication of the staff and volunteers at The Weir Garden...
A once loved garden
The prosperous and wealthy Roger Parr came to own the estate in 1924. He employed six full time gardeners; two were assigned to the woodland garden and four to the walled garden. The Head gardener, William Boulter managed the walled garden and had an active role helping redesign the woodland garden.
Parr spared no expense on the walled garden, purchasing an extravagant Foster & Pearson glasshouse, the same brand used by Queen Victoria. In front of the glasshouse was a border filled with algerian iris, gladioli and dahlias. The glasshouse itself is divided into sections; the first containing houseplants, the second fruit and vegetables and hardy plants.
The garden in the twenty-first century
The last tenant at The Weir was Victor Morris, he came to reside at The Weir after the death of his former boss Roger Parr. Parr’s wish was that Victor stayed on at The New Weir after his death after many years serving him as not only a faithful chauffeur but a dear friend too. During his time here the walled garden yielded too much produce for him alone and eventually the garden was neglected due to wasted upkeep and cost. Fallen into a poor state, the walled garden was out of use for many years until the National Trust decided to revive the garden back into a functioning space in 2009.
Plot by plot, a team of enthusiastic volunteers and staff began work on restoring the garden led by head gardener, Ned Price alongside a second full time gardener, Stephen Morton.
The team spent the first year rigorously clearing the wilderness, pulling weeds and burning the excess. One holly hedge on the south boundary was chopped down from an impressive 20ft to 3ft. The next challenge was to establish the original pathways. Using Ordinance Survey maps, the previous layout was rediscovered and the team created the first of the herbaceous borders on the north and west walls.
A year later in 2010, three more blocks of vegetable beds were restored, more paths were reinstated and more intricate plant borders were introduced.
In August, an excavation of the walled garden was carried out by a small team of volunteers led by archaeologist, Jeremy Milln. The team unearthed a pond which could clearly be seen on the 1885 Ordinance Survey map. Inside the ponds were some rather peculiar finds; an 1875 halfpenny, an intact teapot and a prehistoric flint flake. Someday, with further funding, it is hoped the pond can be restored to its former glory.
The first harvest
The first harvest in 50 years took place the same year. Beans, beetroot, peas, onions, leeks and squashes thrived and inside the borders and flowers started to flourish.
The following years saw the walled garden grow from strength to strength, with plants maturing and the harvest reaping more and more produce.
Eventually, the garden was so productive it was supplying all four of the Herefordshire National Trust locations with fresh produce to use in their tea-rooms as well as being sold on-site to the general public.
Inspired by the flourishing garden, the staff and volunteers at The Weir created a garden inspired recipe book featuring all of their favorite recipes made with fresh garden produce.
Why not pick up your own copy when you next visit?