Let me tell you a secret…

Chiswick has a real Secret Garden. You can glimpse it through the blue wrought iron gates behind the conservatory. It’s our kitchen garden.

In winter, the beds lie dormant with skeletal allium heads and fruit trees decloaked, looking abandoned and forlorn. Just like the rest of the estate, it’s waiting for Spring to arrive. But come Plow Monday in January the digging begins and the garden starts to come to life. The fruit trees blossom, rhubarb is ready for pulling and the early cut flowers such as iris, tulip and angellica bring colour to the turned earth. If you peep through the gates this week, you’ll see for yourself the shoots and crops beginning to flourish.

So what’s the secret of Chiswick’s success? After all, the kitchen garden was awarded gold at London in Bloom last year. It’s our amazing Kitchen Gardeners who volunteer two days a week and some weekends to help the garden flourish. Their dedication ensures that this is always an interesting part of the estate to visit, with new things going on each day. We’re privileged to have experts in root vegetables, cut flowers and food propagation on the team. We even have Rebecca our amazing bee keeper who watches over the twelve Chiswick hives in our cherry orchard. Come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-30 – 3-30 to see for yourself. Better yet, visit one of our open days and spend time with the team.

As for me, my first experience of vegetable and fruit growing was developed by my lovely little pet tortoise named Isabel. She really could put away the veg. And it was considerably cheaper to grow my own than to have to buy her sacks of lettuce every day. If only I had known the kitchen garden existed then!

The kitchen garden is an amazing learning resource. When we are not open to the public, we welcome various groups to work with us and learn about our growing programme. We benefit hugely from having horticultural trainees, the experts of the future, join us on placements, bringing fresh vigour to our digging regimes and fresh thinking to our planting plans. Schools groups come in on Friday mornings to learn about growing and nature. They even get to meet our bees! We also have weekly support from our fine young gardening recruits from Queensmill School.

You can buy kitchen garden produce from the cart which is outside the café on Tuesdays and Thursdays 11-30am – 12-30pm and outside the kitchen garden by the blue gates from 1-30pm – 3-30pm. Chiswick produce is also on sale at Hammonds Butchers, Kew Bridge.

The kitchen garden is open for Chelsea Fringe on Saturday 20th and Sunday the 21st May 11-00 until 3-00. Come along, meet our team and take our educational trail to learn more about the gardens.

Have fun, take care, respect the gardens.

Geraldine