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April 23, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Weston Park walled gardens

2014-04-23, Weston Park Walled Garden visit (2) - greenhouseOn our travels around the UK, we naturally drop into walled gardens & farm shops, when 4 voices in the back of the car say “Oh no, not another … !”. But until yesterday, I’d never visited one of our nearest walled gardens at Weston Park. It was fascinating to look round the Walled Garden & pleasure gardens there with Phil Allen, our Head Gardener at Apley.

The area within the actual walls is bigger than ours, but both gardens date from the late 1700s. Apley has 1 large section of walled garden divided into 3 by 2 internal walls, but at Weston, there are 2 large walled gardens – the North Walled Garden & the South Walled Garden. The total area at Apley, inside & outside the walls, is about the same as Weston’s north & south gardens put together, ie approx. 4.5 acres.

“They have longer east-west walls than north-south walls, so that tender plants could have maximum exposure to the warm south facing aspect… From the 1840s, developments in the design & heating of greenhouse replaced the heated walls.”

They both have Foster & Pearson greenhouses & it was great to see their restoration project a few steps ahead of ours ! Iochre wood from East Africa is used now instead of teak, which is not sustainable. Like Apley, they had heated walls, with an impressive row of former boiler houses & bothies which were in use until only 20 years ago (Apley’s haven’t been used for 60 years & the difference shows !).

Apley’s Head Gardener in 1935 was Mr Coombes, who was in close touch with Weston’s Head Gardener at the time, exchanging notes & ideas. There are also information forums for gardeners’ groups, such as the Shropshire Gardens Trust, with the same purpose of mutual support.

Apley Walled Garden is increasingly very much a market garden business, producing for Apley Farm Shop, the University of Wolverhampton & local restaurants & caterers. Weston’s gardens are more for tourists & visitors. They’ve planted a yew hedge maze for children, set up a community sensory garden, house a steel sculpture exhibition & have planted a new orchard using heritage & local varieties of apples & pears.

The Weston Park grounds are beautiful & open to the public. They’re open 12-27 April then again for a plant fair 4-5 May. They re-open Saturday 24th May to Sunday 7th September for their summer season, but will be closed 13-20 August for the V Festival. The Walled Gardens are open daily 10-4pm.

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