A large fig tree stands beside the apricot house, which can also be used for growing heat loving crops such as chillies and peppers. A second Victorian glasshouse, reserved for succulents, sits to the west of the garden. Sweet peas, grown for the house, tearoom and shop, climb up hazel sticks alongside a permanent rhubarb bed, provider of the raw ingredient for the tearooms’ signature rhubarb cordial.
Each of the four beds is bordered with box hedging. Once clipped in a traditional low rectangular form, the hedge was severely damaged by box blight and was cut back in 2016 in an attempt to save it. The regrowth has been slow, but finally sections of the hedge are regenerating with healthy verdant growth. At the western end of the garden, the whimsical box topiary of a chicken, egg and snail survived unscathed.
The Potager is a favourite with the school groups who respond well to the variety of plants in this garden where self-seeded verbascum, poppies, fennel, foxgloves, hollyhock and parsnip stand, alongside dahlias, perennial herbs and annuals such as cosmos and ageratum. The eclectic mix of cutting flowers and umbellifers ensure that this garden attracts a wealth of insects to inspire and excite enquiring young minds. The presence of bee ‘magnets’, such as borage and comfrey, guarantee a glimpse of pollinating bees on even the greyest of days from Spring through to Autumn. With seed heads left in place until Spring, invertebrates are guaranteed a Winter home and small birds can easily find a meal. One of the main features of this garden are the teasels, structurally as pleasing in their lilac-ringed Summer glory, as they are when frost rimed in Winter. Their presence is celebrated in a beautiful wrought iron gate leading to the Kitchen Garden, which features images of their spiky forms. The Potager is home to breeding wrens and flocks of goldfinches can be observed feeding on the teasel heads in Autumn and Winter.