Society for Garden Designers Award Winners 2016

Photo credit Matthew Bruce

“Historic Garden Restoration Award” for the Walled Kitchen Garden, Fulham Palace, London

The Society for Garden Designers has given an award for the restoration of the Tudor Walled Kitchen Garden at the Bishop’s Palace Gardens in Fulham Palace, London. The work was commissioned by the London Borough of Fulham Palace who asked the Walled Kitchen Garden Network and Urquhart & Hunt Landscape Design Studio to undertake the work.

The team who compiled the report were Susan Campbell, Adam Hunt, Lulu Urquhart, Mike Kleyn, Tom Petherick and the late Fiona Grant.

The historical research for the project was overseen by the renowned Garden Historian, Susan Campbell. Adam Hunt, who also involved in historical research, compiled and coordinated the work and advised on the organic planting plans along with Tom Petherick; Mike Kleyn provided advice on the co-ordination between chefs in cafe and plants from the kitchen garden; and Lulu Urquhart created the various planting plans and layout details for the garden.

Photo credit Matthew Bruce

Historical and over-looked aspects of the garden revealed through researching old maps, inventories and plans included the presence of an old ‘Pinery-Vinery’ against the curved Tudor wall. It was in a bad state of disrepair but due to the presence of pits within the unique curved Glasshouse, and other key features Susan determined that they were originally Pinery-Vinery Glasshouses, growing pineapples and grapes for the Bishop’s Palace. The location of a central water point in a map dated 1838 led to the archaeologists being asked to investigate the possibility of a water supply below ground in the centre of the garden. What they found was a cistern, which was fed from the river Thames to within the garden though there was no evidence of it above ground.

From what was a magical, overgrown secret (although public) garden through a Tudor gate in the wall, the garden has been led through a process of transformation using old archive plans for reference and retracing pieces of gardening history; the project had to find a way to re-build this garden from ruins and run it with a group of volunteers and with limited resources. Some of the restoration plans are still a work in progress, but the garden has come alive again in this incarnation.

One of the main attractions is the new bespoke curved glasshouse that replaced the existing, timber glasshouse which was beyond repair. The custom made Glasshouse from Alitex, carefully and intricately fitted to the curved wall and original footprint recreates the form and presence of the original structure.

The garden fulfills the life of many of the visitors and voluntary and learning & disability groups that help run it, and at every turn, the head gardener Lucy Hart, looks for the next project to embark on and the next growing or restoration mission to undertake. Last year she planted wall fruits around the whole parameter.

It is lovely to celebrate an iconic and historic walled garden in the centre of London in the grounds of one of our British Palaces like this and raise public awareness of this endeavour. It is also acknowledgement of the hard work of all those who collaborated on the design and fulfilment. It is free access and open to the public all year.

What the judges said:

“There is sense of wonder stepping into the walled garden of Fulham Palace now. It is a garden that has regained its purpose, with vegetables and fruit in abundance. Sensitive and intelligent choices have been made, both with the plants and the use of the space. The research and the careful attention to the past, whilst acknowledging the present use of the garden, has resulted in a thoughtful and exciting restoration.”

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