Uncover the unexpected journeys of the harvest from Hamilton Gardens' Kitchen Garden.

The Kitchen Garden at Hamilton Gardens is not just a collection of plants; it tells a story of cultivation, sustainability, and community. As the produce makes its way into the Hamilton Gardens Café, local food charities, and even the playful paws of tigers at the zoo, it carries with it a history and the promise of a more sustainable future. This journey, which thrives thanks to the hands of dedicated gardeners, highlights the lasting relationship between humans and the land they maintain.

The Kitchen Garden at Hamilton Gardens comes to vibrant life during these warmer months. A verdant sanctuary that transcends time, the Kitchen Garden offers a glimpse into the past while providing a bountiful harvest for the present.

As one of the first enclosed gardens created at Hamilton Gardens, this 18th-19th century European-style kitchen garden stands as a testament to the art of cultivation and the symbiotic relationship between people and plants.

In this article, we unravel the fascinating journey of the produce from the Kitchen Garden, exploring its historical roots, sustainable practices, and the impactful ways it benefits both the local community and even the inhabitants of the Hamilton Zoo.

A culinary time capsule.

The Kitchen Garden at Hamilton Gardens is a living representation of the productive gardens that flourished in great European estates centuries ago. Established in 1981, it mirrors the horticultural practices of the 18th and 19th centuries, where such gardens provided a substantial portion of the fruit and vegetables for the household. The garden is enclosed by high brick walls, which reflects the sun's heat back into the garden. This unique design not only extends the growing season but also allows for the cultivation of a diverse range of trees, often resulting in an early ripening of produce compared to other areas in the district.

Companion planting and crop rotation.

Within the Kitchen Garden, sustainability is not just a buzzword; it is a way of life. The gardeners meticulously employ companion planting, integrating flowers like marigolds, primroses, and sweet peas alongside vegetables. This practice not only adds aesthetic charm but also serves a crucial purpose—keeping pests at bay and maintaining soil fertility. Crop rotation, another integral aspect of the garden's management, ensures a continuous variety and abundance of produce. The commitment to avoiding chemical interventions underscores the dedication to organic and environmentally friendly practices.

The harvest.

Produce from the Kitchen Garden is harvested approximately twice a month, yielding around four wheelbarrow loads each time. This diverse bounty is a testament to the careful planning and execution of sustainable gardening techniques. This carefully orchestrated process ensures that the crops are picked at their peak, brimming with flavour and nutritional value.

Some of the harvested bounty finds its way to the Hamilton Gardens Café, enriching the culinary offerings with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Additionally, a portion of the produce is dedicated to supporting a local food charity, ensuring that the community at large benefits from the garden's abundance.

In a delightful twist, the Kitchen Garden's harvest has found its way to unexpected recipients—the inhabitants of the Hamilton Zoo. Tigers, in particular, once revelled in the playful engagement with giant pumpkins.

The scarecrow.

Originating from England, the strawman sculpture, was a cherished gift from the Friends of Hamilton Gardens, is a prominent figure within the Kitchen Garden. The annual Scarecrow Festival, hosted by the Friends of Hamilton Gardens, further solidifies the bond between art and agriculture. Community groups contribute their best scarecrow creations, and the public, using buttons and voting tokens, determines the winner.

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