The Lost Garden – Additional Features


Immediately north of the potting shed and stoke house, in front of this sign, are the remains of a small and plain rectangular glasshouse, probably a Tomato House or a basic Alpine House and built after 1921 in mass concrete with roughcast external walls. The entrance was located in the western gable; two indentations on each side probably correspond to the position of hinged sections for ventilation.  No trace of the timber superstructure survives other than the anchor bolts along the wall top.  It still retains the apparatus associated with an independent hot water system, its boiler located within the adjacent north range. Across from this house are the walls of two contemporary cold frames, for protecting young plants. neither retaining any timber superstructure.



Set side by side at the eastern end of the lean-to range are the remains of two freestanding span houses, similar in scale with just the brick dwarf walls and internal heating pipework remaining. The sunken floor in the better preserved and slightly smaller house (immediately adjoining the lean-to) confirms its use as a ‘pit house’, used for forcing. Traditionally they were used for growing pineapples, melons in particular. They are low-slung buildings that are half sunk into the ground which helped to insulate them and conserve heat. Before the advent of hot water heating pipes fresh farmyard manure (FYM) was used and its fermentation generated heat.

Deep beds were filled with FYM, capped with potting compost and made ready for use. When the hot water heating arrived, it eliminated the drudgery of shovelling fresh, heavy, smelly manure into the beds. During excavation of pit houses elsewhere remaining traces of manure and grit were found under hot water heating pipes, with low level drains to carry away excess water.



Cold Frames were used to protect seedlings and young plants from cold and vermin. The process of moving young plants from a warm environment to be ‘hardened off’ in a cold frame was particularly useful in the spring months for half-hardy bedding plants.



Close by the north-western end of the glasshouse range (to your far right) and behind the alpine glasshouse is a stone-lined water feature. It is roughly elliptic shaped with a short flight of steps to water level. When it was still overgrown with saplings and scrub, buried underneath this layer were metal wires and cast iron rails topped with ornamental heads of Victorian vintage. It provided a useful source of water for the glasshouses and pits, considering the only other source was the trout stream at quite a distance and with steep banks to negotiate. This feature has the same downhill flow as the trout stream so is probably connected with it. Montalto has an extensive water network and the locality is famous for its spas.

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