* For more Dream Acres and to find out how to create your own Dream Acres please see our microsite which explains  how to create your perfect landscape, gardens and outdoor spaces 

Writing for The Tatler in 1710, Joseph Addison described his garden as ‘a confusion of kitchen and parterre, orchard and flower garden’. In other words, it was both productive and beautiful. This is the effect Arabella Lennox-Boyd has achieved in her design for the walled garden at our fantasy estate, Dream Acres, where the raised beds contain not only vegetables, but also fruit trees and cutting flowers for the house.
 
Slip through the side door from the house, and you step into a sunny, walled space that might have been created at any time in the past 350 years. The elegant design takes up a centuries-old tradition of the four-square enclosed garden symmetrically dissected by paths that converge on a handsome timber-framed fruit cage in the garden’s centre, set into a square planting bed.

The L-shaped beds ranged around the centre are bordered on the outside by a perimeter path, which gives access to productive beds ranged against the kitchen-garden walls. The beds are large, but the areas farthest from the paths can be reached by leaving gaps between the planting and, if required, laying a temporary path of small paving stones or bricks.

There are vegetables, herbs and flowers in raised beds; espaliered trees are set against the old, brick walls; the paths are formed with hoggin, a traditional hard-wearing surface of compacted crushed stone and clay; and a large greenhouse, lined on the outside with a bank of cold frames, spans the south-facing wall.

Such a garden offers many benefits. There is the pleasure that comes from growing one’s own produce. The joy of fresh and more flavoursome food. The gratification of seeing even a little light gardening transformed into a tangible reward. The delight of having a tranquil, private spot to which one can retreat. And the intense satisfaction of possessing something that appeals to every sense sight, sound, smell, touch and, of course, taste.

When Zola’s femme fatale, Nana, sees a kitchen garden for the first time, ‘the sight of the kitchen garden seized her attention. She darted back into the house and pushed past the maid on the stairs, stammering: “It’s full of cabbages!… You’ve never seen such big cabbages!… And lettuces, and sorrel, and onions, and everything! Come quick!” ’

Nana is so thrilled that she can’t resist making a tour in the pouring rain, ‘stopping in front of every tree and bending over every bed of vegetables’. An understandable reaction, as there is something deeply compelling about a traditional kitchen garden.

* For more Dream Acres and to find out how to create your own Dream Acres please see our microsite which explains  how to create your perfect landscape, gardens and outdoor spaces

Espaliered trees

Whether trained to be free-standing or against a wall (what the French call palissé), espalier-trained trees add a wonderful sculptural quality to the space. There are practical advantages, too. Espaliers take up less room, produce more fruit and are often healthier, because the gardener has to pay close attention to them seasonally, with intensive pruning.

The fruit is easier to harvest, and espaliers grown free-standing, rather than against a wall, can double as a screen or fence. Espaliered trees must be pruned and trained to force the skeleton of the tree to take on a particular form. The process is, however, relatively simple once learned, and it’s not difficult to achieve a wide variety of shapes.Some suppliers sell them ready trained.

The greenhouse

‘Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too,’ William Cowper said, and the greenhouse at Dream Acres is particularly loveable. It stretches the width of the kitchen garden, and is made from painted hardwood, with workbenches, shelving, storage, a heated area and cold frames. Its primary purpose is the propagation and shelter of young plants or those too delicate to be planted outside, but it also contains a vine for dessert grapes, peach trees and a seating area. One part is devoted to houseplants, including Rhododendron Fragrantissima, Azalea indica, jasmine, Nerine and Pelargonium Royal Oak, all of which can be brought into the house in season.

What is your favourite bit of a kitchen garden? Email countrylife_letters@ipcmedia.com

* For more Dream Acres and to find out how to create your own Dream Acres please see our microsite which explains  how to create your perfect landscape, gardens and outdoor spaces