Six of the best kitchen gardens in Yorkshire
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Good weather is here at last and a good time to visit a stately home with a walled kitchen garden writes Tony Greenway.
Although, in the interests of balance, if good weather isn’t here yet (I write this weeks before you read it, so have no way of knowing) isn’t it dreadful? When are we going to get some sun? We deserve a bit of warmth, frankly.
I love the spring sounds of the birds chirping and children playing (although not your children, of course. Please keep them quiet and stop them from annoying me), but as I wander out into my garden I survey all around me and think: oh, hollyhocks.
Because where most keen gardeners have beds for growing vegetables, we have a trampoline that has seen better days. Where there should be a greenhouse stocked full of lush tomato plant varieties, we have an old shed that is full of children’s bikes. We do have a big herb garden but that seems to only grow lemon mint and what on an earth do you do with that? I haven’t yet met one person who can tell me. All the fruit bushes, meanwhile, have been pulled up by my father-in-law: imagine The Terminator with pruning shears and you’re close.
So I go to other gardens in Yorkshire to see how it should be done. Luckily, lots of walled kitchen gardens in our county grow veg and then will either sell it to you in their shops or served up in their cafes and restaurants. Here are my favourites...
Burton Agnes Hall
It was estate owner Susan Cunliffe-Lister — daughter of the late Willie Whitelaw and a former Country House Gardener of the Year — who created the award-winning walled gardens at Burton Agnes Hall, near Driffield. In the hall’s Courtyard Cafe, you can taste the fruits (and the veg) of her labours (and that of the estate’s gardeners); 75 per cent of the cafe’s salads, vegetables, herbs and fruit are grown in the grounds. Milk, eggs, cream, chicken and beef are also from local suppliers.
01262 490324 burtonagnes.com
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Helmsley Walled Garden
Helmsley Walled Garden, 14 miles from Thirsk, isn’t just pretty, it’s pretty functional too. Its garden shop sells produce grown in the garden, including seasonal fruit, veg, jams and chutneys plus you can sample the garden’s grub in the Vine House Cafe: expect salads, herbs, aubergines, sweet peppers, chillies and tomatoes.
01439 771427 helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk
Castle Howard’s restaurant and cafes feature seasonally grown fruit and veg from the estate’s beautiful walled garden, which was designed as a kitchen garden in the early 18th century. You can also buy the walled garden’s fruit and veg in the Castle Howard Farm Shop, which seems like a very sensible idea.
01653 648333 castlehoward.co.uk
The Ripley Castle tearoom is the place to sample produce from the venue’s walled kitchen garden, where seasonably available. The garden includes a large herb bed and rare variety vegetables.
01423 770152 ripleycastle.co.uk
Scampston Walled Garden
Scampston Hall’s original kitchen garden was brought back to life by Sir Charles and Lady Legard with the help of Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf (a former Gold and Best in Show winner at Chelsea). The restaurant naturally uses produce grown in the walled garden whenever possible.
01944 759111 scampston.co.uk
Swinton Park — on the Swinton Estate, right next to the Dales — is famous for its cookery school which uses fruit, vegetables and herbs from the walled garden behind the hotel. If you want to try some of its ingredients but don’t fancy taking part in a cookery course, you can snag a place on a Garden Lunch (June, July and August features dates with a walled garden theme) or, of course, book a table at the Swinton Park restaurant.
01765 680900 swintonpark.com