The girls leant their bikes against the wall and ventured into the secret garden. It was like stepping into the Georgian era. Being transported back to a time when the produce from this expansive garden would feed everyone on the Croome Estate.
The history of the Walled Gardens at Croome Court
17 years ago, a couple by the name of Chris and Karen were looking for a project. The gardener’s cottage at Croome was perfect. Derelict and set in a vast plot of land, the property inspired visions of a transformation into an eight-bedroomed house. There would be a swimming pool, jacuzzi and tennis courts.
Except that there wouldn’t.
Having purchased the property, the new owners set about mending the garden walls. But not only did this turn out to be an epic undertaking, it led to discovery after discovery. This Georgian walled garden is the largest of its kind in Europe. It originated in the early 18th century and was overhauled along with the Croome Estate in the days of the legendary Capability Brown.
It was only within the past 100 years that the garden became neglected. Eventually, it fell into complete disrepair until the current restoration project began. The Walled Gardens are privately owned, so entry isn’t covered by your ticket to Croome itself. The whole of your £5 entry fee goes towards the renovation project. And in return, you get to explore the garden for a couple of hours.
These days, there are orchards, vegetables and stunning flowers growing. There are crops as unusual as purple tomatoes in the garden and melons in the greenhouse. I asked what happened to the produce and it is sold both on site and to local businesses.
Children in the Walled Gardens
I must admit, before we arrived I was a bit worried about taking the girls into the Walled Gardens. After all, it’s all very well looked after and children like to push the boundaries. But they were made to feel welcome and encouraged to explore.
As well as looking around the garden, we explored the tunnels that were part of the boiler house. These are accessed from one of the greenhouses and they are tall enough to walk through. There was even a toad living in there, although he made himself scarce during our visit. I don’t blame him.
On the lawn, there was a tent with tea, coffee and cakes. These are complimentary, although there is a pot for donations. There were lawn games to play, which the girls were delighted with. The volunteers brought the games indoors when it rained, so the girls were still entertained even in bad weather.
We all loved seeing the pond and the chickens. The shop and visitor centre are located in a beautiful building. There’s not much in the shop at the moment, but it has only recently been completed and they intend to hold more stock in the future. We hid from the rain in there and waited for the sun to come out so we could tell the time on the beautiful sundial.
Whilst I have always wanted to visit the Walled Gardens at Croome, I wondered whether I should go without the children. I’m delighted to say that I was completely wrong. The girls were fascinated by the whole garden, even looking at the signs and asking me to read and explain them.
It is useful to know that dogs are not allowed within the Walled Gardens. However, a tether is provided just outside as they are welcome elsewhere in Croome. If you visit the Walled Gardens, it is well worth making a day of it and visiting Croome National Trust.
The girls took their bikes and had a ride around Croome, before stopping for lunch and a play in the playground. For more information on the Walled Gardens and the next steps in their renovation, you can visit their website. They are open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays until the end of September. After that, they close for the Winter and re-open at Easter.