I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed the Walled Nursery just outside Hawkhurst before.
There are plenty of signs but maybe I’m usually focussed on something else when I’m over that way. I chose possibly the hottest day of the year to have a look around. This gave the whole place a really magical air, not only did I only see one other person there, calmly potting up in one of the glasshouses, raising his hand for a cheery ‘Hello’ but it felt as if I was in the midst of a butterfly and bee haven, they buzzed and fluttered around oblivious of me in the still heat.
The Nursery is set within a Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden with thirteen glass houses, built in the mid to late 1800’s. There are separate melon, cucumber, tomato, carnation and peach houses, a fernery and a three-quarter span vinery (a flawed design apparently). If you have ever longed for a greenhouse, this would make you very happy.
Family owned and run, The Walled Nursery is a real team effort backed up by unsurpassable experience at gardens such as Great Dixter and Sissinghurst. Knowledge of plants, constant research through visiting other gardens, lectures, shows and scouring lists mean that there are a diverse range of plants including many rare ones. Walking around I could see that they had all types of plants covered and there are lots of helpful tips on plants that grow well on local soils.
Ninety percent of their plants are grown from either seed or using on-site cuttings which is quite exceptional and supports lowering the carbon footprint and can go a long way towards making sure imported diseases are kept under control.
There are a list of events on their website www.thewallednursery.com with an apple festival coming up later this month. There are also lectures and courses. An indoor and outdoor ‘self-service’ cafe with homemade cakes makes a good excuse to hang around and enjoy the special ambience of this place.
As with all seemingly perfect buildings there is the ongoing problem of maintenance. Structures of wood and glass are very vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and snow and the high winds earlier this year have taken their toll on the glasshouses that have already been around for more than one hundred and fifty years. The Walled Nursery are working with English Heritage to address how to carry out major structural repairs and lots of work is going on applying for grants and funding. I really hope they are successful.