Study day at secret garden

A study day at Hemel Hempstead’s Felden Lodge aims to turn over a new leaf for the venue’s secret Japanese-inspired gardens.

More than 50 historians and garden enthusiasts attended the event on Friday, which featured lectures on the gardens’ past and plans for their restoration.

Colin Watts, centre manager at Felden Lodge Boys Brigade base.

Colin Watts, centre manager at Felden Lodge Boys Brigade base.

Felden Lodge was built in the late 19th century, but after World War II it was bought by the Boys Brigade as its national centre. While the house and its 32 acres continue to be used by the group, the unique Japanese-inspired gardens which lie in its grounds have become overgrown, and the pond and fountains have dried up.

Kate Harwood of the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust said: “We had cleared the gardens and organised the study day, which has brought in lots of benefits for the garden. If we hadn’t been involved the moves to provide expert advice and help would not have happened. We are now working on other projects as well aligned with Felden and hope to publish the research in due course.”

Lodge manager Colin Watts of the Boys’ Brigade said: “It started because we have this amazing garden and it has always been something that intrigues me. I have worked here for four years but have been coming to Felden since I was a teenager with Boys Brigade.

“Hopefully we can get a group of volunteers together to start clearing the garden and establishing what needs to be done. It just looks a bit sad and sorry for itself at the moment, it is almost like a secret garden.

“We would love the amazing Japanese Gardens to be restored so that they can finally be used, and so that people can sit here and enjoy them.”