In November 2014 the Halesowen Abbey Trust, a registered charity, purchased the Leasowes Walled Garden located within the grounds of the internationally renowned Leasowes Grade I Garden created by Wiiliam Shenstone. The purchase was achieved with donations from a local firm of builders, A J Mucklow, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Councils community forums, the Friends of the Leasowes and individuals. The garden was purchased for the public in perpetuity. Our aim was to own the property and bestowe it with some desperately needed tender, loving, care. Along with our wonderful, enthusiastic volunteers we are doing just this. We are currently creating a dedicated website http://www.leasoweswalledgarden.co.uk.

This is only the beginning of our project. Initially, we are in the process of clearing the site. We have cleared most of the growth created by mother nature, but the effects of mankind on the site are another challenge altogether. Over the decades a huge amount of dumping has taken place and the clearance of same to restore the land to its original level will be very extensive. We have archaeologists working on the site, a highly qualified architect is assisting us and we are endeavouring to find a philanthropic and sympathetic surveyor who will carry out a land survey for us. In the meantime we are making the most of the areas where some planting can take place to lift the spirits of the volunteers and visitors alike. This is only a transitional period, whilst plans and funding are being investigated.

Mick Freer

p.s.     Recently we did visit the Cronin’s wonderful walled garden and we certainly hope to come to the Forum this October.

Here are a couple of photos showing ‘Before’ and ‘After’ views of the garden



FORUM 2015


By kind invitation of Chris and Karen Cronin, Croome Court‘s magnificent 18th century kitchen garden is the venue for our two-day Forum this year, and by kind permission of their neighbours, the National Trust, our talks will be held on both days in the equally magnificent, newly restored 18th century Mansion.

Past themes for our Forums have tended to consist of historical restoration and fidelity to the past. However, the theme for 2015 is ‘The Walled Kitchen Garden in the 21st Century’. Speakers will discuss modern solutions to the problems posed by 18th and 19th century walled kitchen gardens. Subjects will include up-to-date greenhouse restoration and engineering, heating, water supplies, fertility and pest control, modern designs and layouts, and up-to-date horticulture.

This is a two-day Forum because, apart from the very 21st century restoration of the Cronin’s splendid kitchen garden, participants are also invited to visit Croome’s beautiful, historic Capability Brown Mansion and Park.

Look out for the Flyer which will be posted to all our subscribers and will appear on the Grapevine, with application forms and further details.

This March at Divertimenti Marylebone High Street, we’re pleased to host a series of fantastic evenings with some of today’s most exciting cooks and food writers. Tickets are only £6 each and include a glass of wine plus a 10% shopping discount on the night*.

Book at:  www.divertimenti.co.uk/events.html




Gardening Volunteer at Tatton Park Kitchen Garden, Knutsford, Cheshire

It has become a tradition on the First Tuesday in January for the Tuesday Team to walk from the Mansion Stable Yard through the Park to Knutsford, have a coffee and chat at a lovely café, and then walk back to the Stable Yard for lunch in the Restaurant there; most enjoyable with good company, if a little wet until the afternoon. Weather permitting we start work on the second Tuesday.

I hope you all did your ploughing on Plough Monday and that you will enjoy Wassailing at the weekend following.

Our first Tuesday of work saw the Team ‘rhodo-bashing’ between Mercury and the Monument (sounds like a pop group!). This essential work is done every year to keep the rhododendron under control and rejuvenated; the Team gently worked their muscles back to fitness after a month’s “rest”. The weather was cold in the morning, snow at lunchtime and sunshine as we packed up for the day. Another Tuesday, another déjà vu in all respects, luckily for the ‘r-b’ Team.

‘Kung hey fat choi’: Happy New Chinese Year of the Wooden Sheep which starts with February’s full moon.

When the restoration of the Walled Kitchen Garden took place in the early part of this century, there was insufficient funding to restore the likewise walled Old Nursery which once provided plants for both the kitchen garden and formal garden. This fantastic and once productive space slumbered on unloved until recently. One stalwart gardener is now slowly and determinedly bringing this huge area back to life, and there is an exciting Project in the offing. The last remaining sunken Melon Pit (there were originally three) is to be put back into use growing melons, following some urgently needed tlc. The roof lights are to be repaired, the contaminated soil from the brick waist high raised beds removed, and refilled with manure to create hot-beds. When up and running it is intended that interested visitors will be given a conducted tour and brief talk about the history of the melon pit, which is 76ft long and 10ft wide, with half the height sunk below ground level, to retain heat. Before this can happen the access steps will be checked, safe paths need to be laid circum-navigating the melon pit, together with a ramp for disabled access into the pit house.

Another bright cold day but two bonfires were providing welcome heat. Tree felling and clearing was the order of the day for the Team, to open views both across the parkland and around the Japanese Garden. Meanwhile I cleared the weeds and debris from the gutters of the Melon Pit and tidied up pots and trays in the morning, and in the afternoon raked back soil from the edges of the slip bed lawns in the Orchard where a cheeky mole had deposited its molehills in a long line along the edges.

Half Term sees the Scarecrow Festival in the Formal Gardens. The bright sunshine brought out lots of families to enjoy spotting them. The volunteers had to keep moving so they weren’t mistaken for a scarecrow.

The start of seed sowing and pricking out has been badly delayed due to the glasshouse still waiting for repairs to be completed. As the builders have been ‘pulled off’ to work on the Tenants Hall for five weeks it could be nearer Easter before production can begin.   Hopefully with our good facilities we will be able to catch up.

A bright but very cold morning saw the Team down by the Japanese Garden, planting Willow cuttings to add another dimension to the space. In the afternoon the American Garden got a weed-through, and the soft fruit beds saw the start of a weed and tidy.

FORUM 2015

We are very happy to announce that there will definitely be a WKGN Forum this year. Thanks to the kindness of Chris and Karen Cronin, it will take place at their Kitchen Garden at Croome Park in Worcestershire, early in October.
Details regarding the precise date, speakers, and how to book will appear on the Grapevine in due course.




Reg. Charity 1044024


ISBN 978-0-9931470-0-5

Cost £7.00, plus £2.00 postage and packing.

Edited by Polly Burns, Tina Ranft and Nigel Surry

Suffolk Gardens Trust is pleased to announce the publication of their latest book ‘Walled Gardens of Suffolk’, the result of a decade of research to identify and record walled gardens and also to advise owners and tenants as to how they can be revitalised and the role they can play in the 21st century. We hope that this work will enthuse readers to learn more about the development and variety of walled gardens in Suffolk and consider ways in which their decline can be arrested. Suffolk has the potential to have its own Heligan!

Our team of recorders have done detailed surveys of some 40 gardens reflecting very different life styles. We are indebted to Jenny Broster, a member of the group who has made available her degree thesis to the editors and indeed gave us the group the idea that more could be written to inspire further study and identification of sites.

80 pages.

11 Ordnance Survey maps

Over 50 colour photos

8 case studies

List of gardens

Glossary of terms

Select bibliography

Suffolk Gardens Trust was founded in 1995, for further details of our aims and activities, please see out website, suffolkgardenstrust.org . To order ‘Walled Gardens of Suffolk’ or get information about Suffolk Gardens Trust, please contact:-

Stephen Beaumont, Chairman on 01728, stephenbinkybeaumont@gmail.com

Nigel Surry or Polly Burns on 01787 370953, surry.burns@keme.co.uk

Any advice for Simon?

Hello WKGN members,

We have a walled garden of approximately 2 acres size with rectangular wall, our house (the gardener’s cottage) being set into the middle of the south wall. We are situated to the east of Glasgow. We have lived here about 3 years. The previous owners had arranged for some building work to repair some sections of the wall which were badly damaged, I think about 10 years ago.
A fairly large section of the south wall has recently collapsed, about 15 metres long, and approx the top 3 metres of the approx 4 metre high wall. This part of the wall is brick inner and outer skin with rubble in-between. It is only the inner skin which has collapsed resulting in the large coping stones also falling in, but the outer skin remains intact. Some adjacent parts of the inner skin appear unstable.
This part of the wall was one of those parts which were repaired about 10 years ago, in fact the new section has fallen off the older section which remains at the base. When you look at the construction of the new section it appears that the builder has not tied the two skins together sufficiently, whereas the properly constructed older parts of the wall appear to have intermittent layers of bricks end on which presumably tie the inner to the outer, or both to the rubble centre.
It appears that our insurer will not cover this, despite us thinking that our walls were covered.
I assume that we will need to get a structural engineer’s report to assess this damage and advise on proper repair. I wonder if this should be a specialist in this type of construction, and if anyone knows of such specialist in the central belt of Scotland or who would be prepared to travel. I presume it would also be best to get a specialist builder for the repair, which I guess is going to be expensive.
Does anyone have any advice about this? It would be gratefully received.
Simon Osborne.


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