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through the door Windlesham’s Walled Garden Written by Natalie Wills

Children at Windlesham House School are immersed in an inspiring restoration project to bring their secret garden back to life.

Windlesham House School, nestled in over 60 acres of the South Downs, is an impressive sight as you meander up the long driveway. To reach the main school house you drive alongside sports fields, woodland and magnificent gardens and the view is quintessential England at its best. What you don’t see on this approach though is their stunning one acre walled garden, their very own secret garden.

The garden dates back to the 1870s and was abandoned over fifty years ago. The plot has recently been leased by the school from the neighbouring Highden Estate, and is being restored to its former glory by its students, under the expert guidance of newly appointed Market Gardener, Andrew Norman.

The restoration project began with clearing the land and in order to preserve as much as possible

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from the original garden this was done without the use of machinery. Clearing the land was a huge task, for the garden hadn’t been touched in more than five decades. The garden wall is intact, in very good condition and inside the garden two original features remain - the arbor and a greenhouse. The arbor, which is made of pig iron, supports apple and pear trees that are thought to be over seventy years old. One greenhouse remains from a row of original greenhouses. The rest fell in the great storm of 1987. It is hoped that enough material from the original structures has been salvaged to enable the school to re-build one new greenhouse.

The project aims to re-create a traditional Victorian walled garden and the school is enthusiastic about making use of the garden as a teaching and learning facility. The produce grown will supplement the school kitchen, including modern food varieties which don’t require too much preparation time, such as new potatoes, carrots, mange tout and courgettes.

I was intrigued to see the walled garden for myself and I wasn’t disappointed. My mind raced back to school days when I enjoyed reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, The Secret Garden. When thinking about a project that focuses on children and gardening this is perhaps an inevitable link to literature. However, memories of a story that captivated me in my childhood came flooding back when I caught sight of the arched

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