A Fermanagh garden has won Lottery support to begin plans to restore its two-acre walled kitchen garden to replicate its 1930s glory.
Florence Court is an 18th century manor house, the former home of the Earls of Enniskillen, set against the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and forests of west Fermanagh. In Victorian times, the walled kitchen garden would have provided the house and estate with vegetables, herbs and even tropical fruits from the greenhouses. It remained in full production until the 1940s, with up to 12 full-time gardeners at its peak.
The project to restore the garden will cost almost £500,000, part-funded by the Lottery and by the garden’s owner, the National Trust. It aims to work with volunteers from the local community to bring the garden back into cultivation along the same layout it had in the 1930s, as well as restoring and replanting the historic glasshouses.
The team is calling for volunteers to get stuck in with the many tasks involved in bringing the garden back to life, from hands-on exploration of the garden’s archaeology to repointing the walls, pruning heritage apple trees and harvesting local and exotic vegetables de rigueur in the Irish estates of the time.
Two large fruit and vegetable plots are already growing Victorian favourites such as seakale alongside new and unusual vegetables like tree spinach, callaloo and mooli radish. Also in the garden will be 110m of native Irish apple varieties, trained on supports as espaliers. Much of the produce from the garden is sold at the kitchen garden shop.
The centrepiece of the project will be the construction of two replica greenhouses, last seen in the garden in the 1970s. As well as bringing the vision of a working walled kitchen garden to life, the glasshouses will host lectures, training and skill sharing for local horticultural students.