18. Double Walled Garden
The Double Walled Garden is divided into four quadrants, each with their own distinctive pathway.
Quadrants 1, 2 and 3 tell the story of the evolution of flowering plants, and is based on the latest DNA and microscopic research. From primitive water lilies at the centre of the garden to the latest cultivars by the outer walls, you can travel though 150 million years of botanic history.
Plants with one seed leaf, flowering parts in 3 and 6s, and spear-shaped leaves with parallel lines are found Quad 1 – these are known as monocots. There is a Tropical House in Quad 1 which is largely made up of monocots such as orchids, palms and bromeliads.
Plants with two seed leaves and flowering parts in 2s. 4s and 5s, are known as Eudicots and can be found in Quads 2 and 3.
In Quadrant 4 you’ll find a modern kitchen garden, reflecting this area’s original use. Crops grown here include unusual varieties, and you will often find them on your plate in our restaurant. Along the wall from the Tropical House are the ruins of the early 19th century Peach House, which we hope to restore over the next few years.
We have made a pollination trail to help you to explore and understand the Double Walled Garden. You can collect a trail sheet from a white beehive display box situated in and around the Double Walled Garden and outside the Bee Garden.
The Double Walled Garden is a very unusual feature of Welsh and English gardens but is more commonly found in Scotland. The stone outer and brick interior walls create a series of different microclimates and it is thought that this extended the growing seasons.
When it was built 200 years ago, the Double Walled Garden, at over 3 acres, could provide enough fresh fruit and vegetables for a household of 30 people, and employed 12 full- time gardeners. The two walls – one brick, one stone – provided shelter from animals and the harsher elements, and created important microclimates where tender plants could grow. This enabled Sir William Paxton’s gardeners to extend the growing season and, in an era when the transport of fresh produce was very slow, allowed Paxton to impress his guests with a harvest of unseasonably early strawberries, or fresh peaches cropped long after the main season was over.
Within the walls were four primary paths, a central dipping pool to provide handy water for gardeners and a lean-to glasshouse (now a ruin) described as a ‘Peach House’ in an 1824 sales document. This was an enclosed building where, using a Roman-style under-floor heating system, peach trees and other soft fruit were grown all year round. The slip gardens between the brick and stone walls may have been used to grow a range of soft fruits and perhaps to hide unsightly objects like gardening tools and manure.