Walled gardens and historic greenhouses: a realistic approach

Quex House on the Isle of Thanet in Kent is a Regency manor house which is the home of the Powell-Cotton Museum. The grounds contain a largely intact Edwardian walled garden. acta is completing a feasibility study to restore the garden and its buildings as a visitor attraction, education and training centre.

The vineries, orchid houses, peach house, stove house, melon pit and fernery will be repaired. They will be stocked with a mixture of tender ornamental plants mentioned in Edwardian descriptions and contemporary fruit and vegetables. The survival of the backsheds on the north side of the garden containing the potting shed, fruit store, boiler room and bothy is particularly important. Their restoration and interpretation will allow the telling of the story of how the 20-strong force of gardeners lived and worked.

One of the major themes will be to turn the high environmental impact of the original garden on its head through energy conservation, rainwater harvesting and biological controls.

The owner of Quex was an early photography enthusiast so that the garden and its users are well documented.

The peach house has been dismantled but can be rebuilt from the parts put into store. Original hand-lights, forcing pots and many other pieces survive.

The mild climate and the microclimate created by the walled garden allow a wide range of tender plants to be grown in the open.