A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Monday, 13 May 2019
Hill Close Gardens and Garden Nesting Activity
Hill Close Gardens (or the Hidden Hedged Gardens of Warwick) are a rare example of Victorian detached gardens used by residents of the town who lived above their premises in the town centre and had no room to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers in their own back yards which were tiny.
In the mid 1840's the owner of Hill Close divided his land into 32 separate plots and rented them out to towns people so they could use them as detached gardens. The Warwick Board of Health Map of 1851 shows that the gardens were laid out with hedges, entrances, paths and summer houses/sheds and there is also evidence of fruit trees and ornamental planting. The Summer Houses of which there are many in the gardens today were mainly wooden but some of the later ones were built in brick.
By 1860 the freehold of some of the gardens had been sold to individual families and this has helped their survival although only 16 plots are still in existence as the other plots were sold in Edwardian times for housing. Owners included William Sleath who had a bootmaking business; John Margetts who was an Auctioneer, Surveyor and Appraisor and the Chadblands who were butchers.
Some owners cultivated the plots themselves whereas others rented them out. Some of the plots were owned by the same family for many years and other plots were only rented for a short time. The gardens were used for both pleasure and production.
The gardens were cultivated until after World War2 when Warwick District Council began to buy the plots to use the land for housing. After this most of the remaining gardens became overgrown and derelict. In the 1990's a local resident spotted diggers moving onto the site of the remaining gardens and that marked the beginning of the rescue of the gardens with one important factor being that four of the summer houses were listed as Grade 2 buildings. A local committee was set up to fight the development and the Council agreed that English Heritage should decide whether the gardens were historically important. Research revealed the heritage value of the gardens and development was cancelled and eventually a trust was set up to secure the garden's future and restoration. Many volunteers have worked to bring the gardens back to the condition they are in today and continue to maintain them. The gardens were opened to the public from 1998. In Victorian times there were hundreds of detached gardens all around the country but Hill Close is now one of only five remaining.
I can't remember how I first found out about the gardens but I have wanted to visit for quite a few years and Sunday was such a lovely day that we decided Hill Close would be our afternoon out.
Timothy waiting to depart
We started off in the tea room as no-one had had lunch. The Pear and Ginger cake was delicious.
View towards the gardens from the tearoom terrace.
One of the plots today contains an area of plant sales, a greenhouse and a well.
All of the gardens are different and hidden from the others. It is like walking round a series of "secret gardens" and you have no idea what surprise is around the corner. There are around 16 small gardens.
Butterflies seen included Brimstone, Holly Blue and this female Orange Tip
Timothy made a new friend :)
The gardens were delightful and I certainly hope we can visit again at a different time of the year.
Some of the photos my son took.
We had parked by Warwick Race course - the car park is right next to the gardens.
Garden Nesting Activity
The final total of eggs in the Blue Tit nest was nine and on Saturday 3 little chicks had emerged - sorry not the best of photos - the nest camera is linked into the television.
Mother Blue Tit eating the egg shells.
Today Monday there seem to be six or possibly seven chicks. The parents are working hard at feeding and fortunately the weather has gone warmer.
*D Photos taken by my son with the Canon SX50HS bridge camera
Rest of photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera
Hill Close Gardens Guide Book
Leaflet on the Gardens
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.