I have been aware of the rewilding project at Knepp Castle for a while now and it is something I am very interested/curious about.
I had been bought the book 'Wilding' by Isabella Tree, who lives at Knepp with her husband Charlie Burrell and found the scale and imagination behind the project really quite awe-inspiring. They have 350 acres of land that had been traditionally farmed for generations. In 2001 they started restoring the Repton Park landscape at Knepp and from that they started to look at how much conservation they could do. In 2010 the Knepp Wildland Project received funding and from there the project has developed. There is considerable amounts of information on their website about their history and their progress.
All this means that I really wanted to visit Knepp. It is a schlep from where I live but when I saw that Gardens Illustrated where holding a Reader Day there I just had to book onto it. The day would involve talks from Charlie Harpur, Head Gardener and a tour of the recently redesigned Victorian Walled Garden led by its designer Tom Stuart Smith.
The Walled Garden itself is an incredible project. There was a lot of talk about 'disturbance', how nature requires disturbance, whether that be by pigs rootling or goats grazing etc. Whilst this is mainly a principle in the outer Knepp Estate, the principles were also brought into practice in the Walled Garden where the main 'disturbance' is by humans: the gardeners who weed, who plant, who walk the paths, as we all do in our own gardens in one way or another.
I got very intersted in the natural bee hive. A hive that is not designed for the collection of honey but for a place for bees to live. Honey bees apparently moved in very quickly and they were buzzing in and out whilst I watched. I would love to have a hive like this: it would be perfect for me as I would love to keep bees but I have no wish to be a 'bee keeper' (if that makes sense?).