The Walled Kitchen Garden
In the earliest kitchen gardens, productive and ornamental plants were grown together, often contained within a formal framework. Walled gardens that were dedicated solely to the production of food crops emerged in the 18th century.
The formal style of garden was out of fashion by the mid-18th century, and the trend for landscaped grounds sweeping up to the house meant that the walled garden was either relocated to a site some distance from the house, or screened with trees and shrubs to avoid compromising the illusion of a ‘natural' landscape.
This move provided an opportunity to create a dedicated space for the optimum growth of fruit and vegetables. The gardens could now be given the best growing conditions, ideally on fertile, well-drained ground on a south-facing slope. Proximity to a water supply and shelter from adverse winds were also important considerations, although shelter could be created by planting a belt of trees, and water diverted to the site.
The typical shape of a walled kitchen garden is rectangular, with the longest walls running along an east-west axis to increase the length of the south-facing walls. But other shapes were experimented with: the kitchen garden at Gravetye Manor is oval, while the one at Luton Hoo is octagonal.