IMG_7272I was privileged to be invited to the opening of a ‘new’ glasshouse at Peckover House, Wisbech last week.

You may recall that I spent some time here as a Heritage Gardening Trainee last year, and really learnt a lot from the Gardener in  Charge, Allison and her cheerful accomplices, Jenny and Janet. I wrote a lengthier piece about the garden earlier in the year (see link below), and at that time it wasn’t yet certain that the fast – decaying Orangery in this superb Victorian Garden was going to be saved. But thanks to some local fundraising and additional funds and wisdom of the owners, the National Trust, I’m very pleased to say that this focal point in the garden has been saved. Or rather, recreated, as the original was in such a poor condition, that further repairs weren’t possible. The replacement is a faithful rendition of the old structure, with a few minor amendments to make life easier for the gardeners. The former tiled floor, surrounding walls and walled containers with three ancient Orange trees have been retained, now with a new covering made, as was the original, in timber and glass. It includes sash window ventilation and roller blinds to help with temperature and light control.

During the rebuild the 300 year old orange trees were exposed to the elements and what a stroke of luck that we had one of the best summers in recent years, for they have obviously benefitted from that exposure to fresh air and sunshine!

The overall feeling is of a light, colourful and inviting atmosphere. The old Orangery had a typically Victorian air of ‘gothic gloom’ about it, especially as some of the older specimens accompanying the oranges were mature and shaded the interior. I guess the replacement plantings alongside the outer wall will eventually make their mark, but for now I do like the open, bright interior. The inner, sun – facing side of the Orangery is once more populated with a colourful array of terracotta pots containing a wide variety of tender specimens, all laid out on benches ans shelves in the spirit of the Victorian passion for collecting the unusual and exotic. Here are some pictures of the opening event and the new Orangery.

The overall project cost over £200,000. I’m sure it will be worth it as the garden- already a jewel in the National Trust’s crown – would have seemed empty without it. If you’re ever near to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire the place is well worth a visit – as you can see from this selection of pictures taken last week.

Congratulations National Trust, the Peckover House Gardening team and all those others who contributed to the project!

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Old School Gardener