Walled Garden Restoration Project
The recently completed £1.2million restoration of the Walled Garden has brought the garden back to its former glory. It includes 1700m sq of newly created and restored flower beds, a Heritage Greenhouse for exotics, exhibitions in the old head gardener’s office and gardeners’ bothy and a Heritage Centre. Visitors will be able to experience what life was like for those who worked in a Great Garden and opens-up new areas of Picton Gardens never before seen by the public.
The courtyard area where the old Head Gardener’s Office and Gardener’s Bothy (cottage) are located, would have originally provided accommodation for young, single gardeners who lived in the garden and whose duties included stoking the furnace and boilers for the glasshouses and providing ventilation to the glasshouses during the night. Adjacent to this were the potting sheds which now form Picton’s Indoor Fernery. Here you will find potting mixtures written on the door in pencil by the gardeners at the time, dating from the 1890’s.
The old cottages and bothies have been renovated and converted into use for visitors, including a training and education room, an interpretation suite, and improved volunteer and visitor facilities. We have also rebuilt the Heritage Glasshouse and the original cold frames and all these areas now form our Heritage Centre, which will soon be open to the public for the first time
One of the aims of the restoration and redevelopment of the heritage centre was to create a new kind of practical visitor experience. We plan to create educational outdoor planted areas in the new courtyard exploring the world of plants and their uses to mankind. This will enable us to expand our educational outreach to local schools and other interested organisations.
We will host regular family activities, adult courses and workshops, and educational sessions for schools and home schooled children. You will be able to learn about our local history, the wildlife of the garden (like slowworms and the bats in our ‘Bat Hotel’), and how people used to grow plants for food and medicines. There will always be something new to do and see come rain or shine!
The Wildlife of the Walled Garden
Conservation in all its forms was at the heart of the Walled Garden Project from the beginning. Assisting in the project are a team of experts in their field including Conservation and Environmentalists, Architects, Surveyors, Interpretation and Educational Specialists. Prior to the works we had to undertake extensive environmental impact assessments. These revealed that Picton Castle’s Walled Gardens are home to Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, Brown Long-eared bats and Soprano Pipistrelles. We also have other precious species such as slow-worms and a range of reptiles and amphibians. It is vital to ensure that these wonderful creatures are protected and their habitats are safeguarded. To this end we built specialist bat roosts, which we have nicked named The Bat Hotel. As part of our planned educational work and to ensure our conservation work is open to the public in an inclusive way, we plan to install wildlife cameras for the public to observe the bats without them being disturbed (the Bat Cam!).
We are now moving into the final stages of the restoration. The gardening team are hard at work replanting the areas within and around the walled garden. The herb collection has been relocated to it’s new home in the heritage centre courtyard, and areas of planting have been created within the garden to accommodate the new paths around the circumference of the interior walls.
We will update you with news of further reopening as we have it, and we hope you enjoy the work that has already been completed. We are extremely grateful your your support and patience during the restoration, and we cannot wait to share with you the completed heritage centre in the coming weeks.