Grappenhall Walled Garden back to its former glory

Grappenhall Walled Garden back to its former glory

Grappenhall Walled Garden back to its former glory

Grappenhall Walled Garden back to its former glory

Grappenhall Walled Garden back to its former glory

First published in Local Leisure

Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden was created in the 1830s by Thomas Parr, a Warrington banker, as part of his estate.

It was opened to the public in 1998 and sells fruits and vegetables when in season.

Bob Jenkins has been a volunteer at the walled garden since 1992 and brings his grandchildren Amy, aged two, and Ben, aged five months, there.

He explains why the site is so special to him and talks about the new plans for the greenhouses.

Describe the garden

Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden is approximately four acres and it consists of a pleasure garden and a kitchen garden.

The kitchen garden would have supplied the fruit and vegetables for the Parr family.

What are your plans for the garden?

Now that we have had the greenhouses refurbished the idea is that we’ll be able to have more exotic fruits and vegetables available to sell to the public.

There will be figs, peaches and nectarines which used to be grown in the greenhouses years ago when the Parrs were here.

We also hope to grow quite a few plants to sell on for funds to maintain the greenhouses and the garden itself.

We have had just over £1million for the project altogether from the Heritage Lottery Fund with a certain amount of match funding from Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council and a contribution from the Friends of Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden.

We have a cafe that we’re hoping to open in mid September. Initially we think it will be open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and if it all goes well probably Friday afternoons as well but it all depends on the response from the public.

How did you get into gardening?

I’ve lived in the area virtually all my life and I used to come here as a small child. I was fascinated with the secrets that were on the other side of the wall.

I moved away from Warrington for three and a half years to Wales and when I came back in 1992 I got involved with Warrington Organic Garden Society.

We were invited to use part of the kitchen garden for allotments so about half a dozen of us hacked our way through the ‘jungle’ and cleared spaces to grow our own fruit and vegetables.

Then we heard the site was going to be cleared for a new development. We thought that would be a tragedy so we got quite a number of parish councillors down here one night and set up the Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden Protection Society.

It was only really then that people from New Town House came down to see what was here.

They realised the potential of the place and re-established it more or less as it is now. Somewhere in the region of £500,000 was spent on it. It was then gifted to Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council.

What is your favourite feature and why?

You do get a lovely view across the ponds and at this time of the year you do get quite a lot of different dragonflies flying over the water.

We get herons and we do get a kingfisher on occasions that perches on the branches to get the smaller fish.

You also get the background and the different colours of the trees and in the autumn as the leaves start to change you get fantastic autumn colours.

The bench there is one of my favourite places to sit and enjoy the garden.

Why do you enjoy gardening?

I’ve always enjoyed gardening and growing things ever since being a small child. My father used to have an allotment during the war and it’s just been one of my interests.

Have you suffered any garden catastrophes?

The only major one was when we had vandals and they completely wrecked the fruit cage we put up to protect the soft fruit. It was beyond repair and altogether the damage cost somewhere in the region of £1,000. It was very disheartening.

Other than that we haven’t really had any catastrophes at all. We’ve been very lucky.

Any top tips for gardeners?

The best thing really is to make sure you feed the ground. If you look after the soil, the soil will then look after the plants so regular mulching with compost. We do a complete bed within the kitchen garden every year with about a four inch thick layer of compust and then we use organic fertiliser as well. If you feed the ground you’ll get the results.

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