Wynyard Walled Garden revamp is a real family affair

Mark Birtle with son Leo, 18, who is helping him work towards the opening of the historic Walled Garden at Wynyard Hall Hotel.
Mark Birtle with son Leo, 18, who is helping him work towards the opening of the historic Walled Garden at Wynyard Hall Hotel.

All will be rosy in the garden when a father-and-son team helps a green dream becomes a reality at a top tourist attraction this summer.

Head gardener Mark Birtle and his three-strong team - including 18-year-old son Leo - have been working their green fingers to the bone ahead of the opening of the historic Walled Garden at Wynard Hall Hotel, in Tees Valley, on August 4.

This is without doubt the biggest challenge of my career

Mark Birtle

For proud Mark, 48, who has worked for Sir John Hall at Wynyard Hall for 20 years, the project is the highlight of his gardening career.

Built by the Hall’s former owners, the Marquises of Londonderry, in the 19th century, the Walled Garden has undergone a £1.6m development overseen by multi-award-winning Royal Horticultural Society landscape architect Alistair Baldwin.

However, the planting – of yew and beech hedging, shrubs, 3000 roses and a few thousand herbaceous perennials - is entirely down to Mark and his team at Wynyard Hall, which also includes estate gardeners Paul Riding and Barrie Browning as well as son Leo.

Mr Birtle said: “This is without doubt the biggest challenge of my career.

“This is a prestigious project that will receive nationwide attention and, when the doors open on 4 August, I know I will be immensely proud of what the four of us have achieved.”

The Walled Garden development, to the north of the Hall itself and within the estate’s 150 acres of grounds, will also house a state-of-the-art visitor centre, shop and café, stocking and serving locally-sourced goods and produce.

It is the second stage in a rolling programme of work to create The Gardens at Wynyard Hall, which will eventually cover four acres and be one of the largest rose gardens in the UK.

The first stage, adjacent to the Walled Garden, was the £1.7m installation of a Grand Marquee and management suite, for weddings and large scale corporate events.

Also, further stages will include a £2m investment in the creation of a cookery school, children’s garden and designated walks through the estate.