Things to See and Do

THE KITCHEN GARDEN AT WALMER CASTLE

It's appearance on a plan of Walmer Castle dated 1725 makes 'The Governor's Garden' the earliest documented garden at the castle. Today, the kitchen garden provides a beguiling display throughout the season, as well as fruit, vegetables and cut flowers for the castle and tea room.

Walmer's Kitchen Garden showcases trained fruit trees, rich vegetable plots and flowers for cutting. Growing vegetables on a three-year rotation, with a new design each year, means there is always something new to admire, whether among the borders, hanging in  the trees, or on display at the glasshouse. Unusual vegetables and plant combinations offer unique ornamental value, with the added benefit of a fresh and regularly changing seasonal menu for the castle tea room and Glasshouse Café.

Visitors enjoy the display at the Kitchen Garden.

On Display

Within the four box-edged beds a wide range of unusual ornamental fruit and vegetables are grown, overhung with traditional Kentish varieties of apples and pears grown in espaliered tiers. With three out of four beds dedicated to vegetables, complimentary planting creates flashes of colour amid the greens, and edible flowers increase the diversity and ornamental value of the beds.

The Kitchen Garden is at its best in spring when the blossom on the cherry, apple and pear trees is in full bloom, resembling snow banked on the naked branches. By late summer, the whole area is bursting with ripening produce. 

A bird of paradise flower at Walmer’s Glasshouse.

The Glasshouses

The long range of glasshouses were first constructed in 1898, comprising a vinery, tomato house and small fernery. Enlarged and improved during the 1930s, a second glasshouse was then added during the Marquess of Willingdon's tenure between 1936 and 1941. Today, the glasshouse grows a wide variety of plants with distinctive leaves, forms and fragrances such as scented pelargoniums and succulent aeoniums.

The contemporary display at the glasshouse adopts something of a Victorian stove-house effect. An abundance of exotic plants offer dazzling colours and rich scents, and the many exotic leaf shapes catch the eye. Particularly striking is the majestic bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae), and the magnificent Epiphyllum oxypetalum, or queen of the night. This bloom is a favourite of Lord Warden the Lord Boyce, from whom the specimen on display at the glasshouse was generously donated.  

As part of the Rediscovering Walmer's Pleasure Grounds Project, that has revived parts of Walmer's historic pleasure grounds, major improvements have been made to the Castle's visitor facilities. The new glasshouse cafe allows visitors somewhere to sit and enjoy the Kitchen Garden whatever the season.

Explore Walmer's Gardens

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