Herbal Travels: The Herb Gardens of Fulham Palace

http://www.motherearthliving.com/In-the-Garden/herbal-travels-herb-gardens-fulham-palace.aspx

n.heraud2You can check out the Lemon Verbena Lady at her blog http://lemonverbenalady.blogspot.com.

I was very happy to see some new herb gardens during my visit to England in September. One of them is at Fulham Palace, which was once the residence of the Bishops of London.

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The courtyard of Fulham Palace.
Photo by Nancy Heraud
 

The Bishops acquired the site in 1704 and the last Bishop moved out in 1973. The Palace was then leased in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in 1975. The Museum of the Palace was opened to the public in 1992.

I found this herb garden in the book Herbs & Herb Gardens of Britain by Elizabeth & Reginald Peplow. Ironically, it talked about how the knot garden was "a straggling and unsightly mess" and it had been restored. Unfortunately, it is in need of renovation once again. They have started the renovation and it should be completed in about 18 months or so.

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The wall enclosing the knot garden and orchard.
Photo by Nancy Heraud
 

If only walls could talk—what a history this wall has had! The archway into the herb garden is from Tudor times. It was likely that early on the garden was arranged in formal geometrical shapes formed by paths and hedges. Flowers, vegetables and herbs would have been grown in the same space.

The knot garden was visible on a map from 1828 and was originally planted with flowers. Herbs were planted in the 20th century. Most of the herbs in the knots were perennial and included fennel, feverfew, hyssop, lad's love (southernwood), lemon balm, marjoram, mint, rosemary, rue, sage, salad burnet, sorrel, tansy, tarragon, thyme and lavender for culinary, medicinal and aromatherapy uses. There also were botanical beds where plants were grown in "family" groups. There are two enormous bay trees, one green and one golden, that are the foundation of the garden.

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Golden Bay is a foundation plant in the knot garden.
Photo by Nancy Heraud
 

The knots have goldenrod and wild brambles growing in them. There are still herbs thriving, including this rosemary.

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A rosemary surviving the ruins of the knot garden.
Photo by Nancy Heraud
 

Hopefully, by this time next year or in 2012, Fulham Palace will have their knot garden filled with herbs as it originally was planted and it will be thriving once again.

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A schematic drawing of the Fulham Palace knot garden.
Photo by Nancy Heraud
 

I always talk about structure in an herb garden and this one definitely has a great herbal structure.


If you have herb questions, please feel free to leave me a comment or e-mail me at lemonverbenalady@hotmail.com. Talk to you soon.