Historic crops returning to Kirkleatham Walled Garden

Grapes of the past returning to Kirkleatham Walled Garden

Kirkleatham Walled Garden’s Head Gardener has been scouring local and national newspaper archives for information about the gardeners who worked in the walled garden in the past and the crops which they cultivated in the garden.

One historical find has led to an interesting group of plants being reintroduced – Hazel says “I was particularly excited to find a journal article from 1875 which noted a 20lb bunch of grapes grown at Kirkleatham which was so renowned that a picture of them was actually displayed in the house”. The article, along with other records of prizes won for grapes from the garden, at Darlington and Guisborough horticultural shows throughout the 1860’s and 70’s, show that grapes we’re a very desirable crop at Kirkleatham.

Hazel added, “This year we’ve planted two new productive grape vines in the garden and hope to be able to harvest grapes in the summer months in years to come – we don’t have the luxury of growing ours in a glasshouse but the varieties we’ve chosen should do well outside on a south facing wall. It’s really great to be able to grow some of the crops which we know did well here in the past, it feels like a real link to the gardeners who worked in these walls previously. I’m not sure we’ll be able to cultivate a 20lb bunch, but what a challenge to have!”

Redcar & Cleveland Council Horticultural Apprentice, Anne, planting a new grape variety in the garden.

“I’ve found loads of lovely pieces of information about some of our previous gardeners – from Thomas Brown who in 1793 was paid £ and 10 shilling for two years of his work as a gardener, all the way to John Todd – who came from a family of Richmond Market Gardeners to be head gardener at Kirkleatham at the age of 29, in 1871”

Kirkleatham Walled Garden is set for its busiest year yet after reopening after a large scale restoration in 2019. We’re adding to the planting across the garden all the time and are developing our kitchen garden to grow more fruit and vegetable crops for the future. The Garden is managed by a small team of gardeners who are assisted by Horticultural Apprentices from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, with the help of an amazing group of garden volunteers.

Kirkleatham Walled Garden is managed by Elior UK Holdings


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