From around 2007 proposals emerged to transform the derelict 2-acre seventeenth century walled garden at Chiswick House into a car park and retail outlet, spear-headed by English Heritage and the local council.
After intense battles between the local residents led by Karen, and the authorities, the brick-walled area, originally built by Samuel Fox in the 1680s, was saved as a functioning walled vegetable and fruit garden. The Chiswick House Kitchen Garden Association, the charity established by Karen and other residents, provided a six-figure funding package to ensure the sustainability of the garden to ensure it was saved as a community space of beauty and sustainability.
Karen ran this project from 2005-2009, involving nearly all children in the local schools and many members of the community who gave time and money to show the authorities what the garden could and should be.
The farewell gesture by the group was to plant over 200 heritage fruit trees, making up the largest new orchard in London. Apples, pears, plums, figs, mulberries, peaches and soft fruit provide a real cornucopia for the future. The southern garden is once more divided into quarters – herbs & cutting flowers, vegetables and fruit. The northern garden, once doomed to be gravelled over for corporate car parking, is now a spacious orchard of cherry and plum trees.
The walled gardens are now once again an integral part of Chiswick House and Gardens.