Walled Garden Diaries – First Installment

Within the grounds of Clayhill Arts is an historic walled garden. It is south facing, a decent size and has two established apple trees, as well as raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrant bushes. It has seen better days, as during the last few years it has been used as a bit of dumping ground. From pallets to plant pots, excess building material and mountains of cardboard, it’s been a convenient location for all sorts during the renovation of the granary and studios

Before we get too excited about what can be grown, we have had the tedious job of clearing all the rubbish that has accumulated over the last few years. A nice and frosty day in January was warmed up by a large bonfire to burn through the cardboard and wood that we had no use for.  

After this dull work has been completed, we can get on with the transformation. First up was to get Phil (the digger driver) in to level off the ground.  The walled garden has a slope to it so we needed some big machinery to get the job done as the space is too big to level by hand.  As well as leveling off the garden, Phil has also marked out the paths and dug out the foundations for the greenhouse. 

The greenhouse will be 8 metres long and 3 metres wide, which is a good size, but it’s swallowed up in the space we have in the garden!  I’m really looking forward to having the greenhouse so we can (hopefully) have more success with growing from seed and cuttings.  The current greenhouse which has missing panes of glass isn’t really ideal.

The plans for the garden have the outdoor kitchen positioned where I built the three compost bins last year, so unfortunately, had to be moved.  Mike has built the new ones with some of the old pallets we had left over and I moved the compost. This was made especially difficult due to how wet and muddy the ground has been. All of the rain we have had through January and February has made the area into a mud bath! 

The final part of this first installment is the chicken coop. We’re not too sure how many chickens we will have but the plan is to re-home a few ex-battery chickens. They will certainly have a much better life here and so far we have only built the frame, but it’s a start. There are a couple of houses left from the old chicken shed that will be added to the new coop.  The new chickens will be living in luxury!

Hopefully we will make good progress over the next few months, weather permitting, and if all goes well we might even be able to make a start on growing a few things by the spring too!


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