News reaches the LPGT of an exciting project that has started to revive the historic Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House and Gardens
Volunteers from Chiswick Horticultural Society were given permission earlier this year to bring local schoolchildren to clear the undergrowth and begin planting peas, lettuces and all the usual edible plants that can be grown in a living kitchen garden.
The two-acre garden is situated beyond the Camellia House, behind the wall that at runs alongside the hockey pitch. The gardens created in 1683, originally formed part of the property of Sir Stephen Fox, Paymaster General to the Armed Forces, neighbour to Lord Burlington at Chiswick House, and boss of Samuel Pepys. They were added to the Chiswick House lands in 1812, and formed part of the grounds of the local lunatic asylum in the early 20th century. The Beatles shot a film for their single, Paperback Writer, there in May 1966.
The gardens served as a Council nursery until the 1980s, but then budgetary constraints meant they were shut up and have lain neglected ever since, apart from one corner that is still used as a holding ground for bedding plants for the Council.
Since the project's start in January, local schoolchildren have been digging and weeding to clear a small area for cultivation. The first peas and onions were planted in early March. Since then school parties of eight- to seventeen-year-olds have been gradually clearing and planting the Kitchen Garden.
The first crop of lettuces was ready to eat in May. Schools and volunteer workers have enjoyed the produce, with any surplus being offered for sale locally. There are ambitious plans for strawberries, tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, and much, much more.
In May the Gardens were opened to the public for one day. It is hoped that public access will be increased, for those wishing to look and admire, as well as for those willing to work! In an age of childhood obesity and a lack of contact with nature, this Kitchen Garden is proving an oasis where children can experience something new and valuable, while at the same time restoring an important local amenity.