Co-founder of Lush cosmetics discovers 'lost' 140-year-old garden

Co-founder of Lush cosmetics discovers 'lost' 140-year-old garden

May 19, 2021

The REAL secret garden: Co-founder of Lush cosmetics discovers ‘lost’ 140-year-old walled garden behind a padlocked gate at his new historic country estate that has remained untouched for 40 years

  • New owners of historic Grade II-listed country estate in Dorset have discovered an overgrown secret garden
  • Lush co-founder Simon Constantine went off exploring the grounds of Carey House and found ‘lost’ garden
  • The 3.5 acre plot in Wareham, Dorset was built 140 years ago and was last used and tended to in the 1970s
  • The Careys Secret Garden is now open to paying visitors at £10 a ticket for an hour in the tranquil garden  

The co-founder of cosmetics giant Lush has discovered an overgrown secret garden at his new historic country estate that has lain untouched and forgotten for more than 40 years. 

Simon Constantine was astounded when he and his children went off exploring the grounds of Carey House near Wareham, Dorset and found the ‘lost’ walled garden behind a padlocked gate.

The 3.5 acre plot was built 140 years ago and at one stage would have provided both the estate and the wider community with fresh fruit, vegetables and cut flowers.

It is thought that it was last used and tended to in the 1970s, and became a rambling wilderness of long grass and brambles with the brick walls covered in ivy in the subsequent five decades.

The Careys Secret Garden is now open to paying visitors at £10 a ticket, with one of the outbuildings turned into a event space where classes like seed sowing and mushroom foraging will be held.

Mr Constantine, whose father Mark co-founded Lush, said: ‘It was like something out of The Secret Garden.  

Head gardener Paul Scriven pictured with his dog Finn in a 3.5 acre walled garden in Wareham, Dorset

An aerial view of the Carey Secret Garden in Wareham, Dorset, which the owners of Carey House found behind a wall 

A view of the Care Secret Garden, a 3.5 acre plot of land found by the owners of the historic Carey House in Dorset

Simon Constantine was astounded when he and his children went off exploring the grounds of Carey House near Wareham and found the ‘lost’ walled garden behind a padlocked gate

Head gardener Paul Scriven in the rose garden in Wareham, Dorset, found by the owners of Carey House 

Gardener Daniel Smith in the herb garden in Wareham, Dorset, found by the owners of Carey House

‘We could peer through and see several trees, long grass and brambles but had no idea as to the size or design of the walls as they were completely covered by overhanging branches and ivy. Before I could unlock the gates my children had pushed their way in and it already had this incredibly enchanting feel.’ 

Lush has been linked to a string of campaigns, which are mostly environmental but also involve human rights. 

Its involvement, if at times controversial, has always been brash and colourful and backed by its own staff, who are more likely to be drawn from the world of radical politics than business schools.

Apart from anti-fracking, Lush has also backed protests against EU laws that would increase the use of animal testing, a campaign that resulted in a pile of manure dumped outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Lush has also championed sharks, which it says are at risk because of the demand for products such as shark fin soup. Lush created a product especially for the campaign, Shark Fin Soap, which is blue, made with seaweed and sea salt and with a cardboard shark fin sticking out of the top.

Mr Constantine and his wife Vicky set about clearing the garden and found two abandoned outbuildings and empty beer bottles dating back to the 1970s.

After a huge amount of back-breaking work that saw tonnes of weeds, grass, soil and clippings cleared away, they began to re-plan the garden using drone photography. 

The 3.5 acre plot was built 140 years ago and at one stage would have provided both the estate and the wider community with fresh fruit, vegetables and cut flowers

 Head gardener Paul Scriven tending to the Carey Secret Garden, now a tourist attraction at just £10 a ticket

The Carey Secret Garden before its transformation from a forgotten piece of land into a stunning tourist attraction

A view of the Carey Secret Garden taking shape after the owners of Carey House found the area 

A view of the Carey Secret Garden, found behind a padlocked gate by the owners of Carey House in Wareham, Dorset 

An aerial view of gardener Daniel Smith in the herb garden in the Carey Secret Garden in Wareham, Dorset

A wheelbarrow left in the Carey Secret Garden in Wareham, Dorset, now open to visitors at just £10 a ticket

The family put in defined growing areas for scented and cut flowers, a rose garden, a vegetable and herb garden, a food forest and a stumpery. They also planted new trees and laid out a network of pathways.

Mr Constantine said: ‘It has been a real voyage of discovery for us. When we bought Carey House, the walls were not listed on the brochure and it was only on closer inspection that we realised the extent of them. 

‘The first discovery of the gardens was through a locked wooden gate at the end closest to the house.

‘We found out the walled garden was actively used for food production and recreation, doubling as a dairy paddock and piggery at various points.

‘It ceased real productivity in the late 1970s and gradually fell into disrepair after that.

‘The old dairy still stands to the south of the gardens and has old machinery, milking pens and even a rusted old sterilising unit for the milk. The potato store had old pairs of shoes and bottles and it was clear a few parties had been had over the years within the walls.’ 

A view of the Carey Secret Garden, found behind a padlocked gate by the owners of Carey House in Wareham, Dorset

A view of the Care Secret Garden, a 3.5 acre plot of land found by the owners of the historic Carey House in Dorset

Simon Constantine was astounded when he and his children went off exploring the grounds of Carey House near Wareham and found the ‘lost’ walled garden behind a padlocked gate

A view of the Care Secret Garden, a 3.5 acre plot of land found by the owners of the historic Carey House in Dorset

The Carey Secret Garden before its transformation from a forgotten piece of land into a stunning tourist attraction

An aerial view of the Carey Secret Garden in Wareham, Dorset, which the owners of Carey House found

Mr Constantine said: ‘Our building team supported with the landscape design, we removed tonnes of grass as the sheer weeding alone was monumental.

‘We began to create paths and define the boundaries of the garden until it took shape as a recognisable walled garden. Now there are many different areas within the gardens for people to walk round and explore.

‘On entering there’s an arid garden leading to a mixed meadow and orchard.

‘Beyond that is the food forest and stumpery before you reach the old oak and lawn. 

‘We have a reclaimed barn and small events lawn which is not far from the team and herbs gardens, no dig vegetable beds, greenhouse, cut flowers and fruit cage.

‘We have aimed to create a special and flexible space which we hope will to add courses and events to when the time is right. I think any natural space has increased in its value to people since the pandemic.

‘We feel very lucky to have walked into a role as custodian of this wonderful space at a time like this.’ 

Lush! British eco-friendly cosmetic retailer has backed controversial Frack Off campaign, battled badger culling – and even championed sharks 

Lush may produce and sell creams, soaps, shampoos, shower gels, lotions, moisturisers, scrubs, masks, and other cosmetics for the face, hair, and body using only vegetarian recipes – but it is also politically active.

The British retailer, founded by Mark Constantine and his son Simon in 1995, was the main financial backer of the controversial Frack Off campaign in Balcombe and helped to bankroll the battle against badger culling.

Lush has also been linked to a string of campaigns, which are mostly environmental but also involve human rights. 

Its involvement, if at times controversial, has always been brash and colourful and backed by its own staff, who are more likely to be drawn from the world of radical politics than business schools.

Apart from the anti-fracking battle, Lush has also backed protests against EU legislation that would have increased the use of animal testing, a campaign that resulted in a pile of manure dumped outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Lush has also championed sharks, which it says are at risk because of the demand for products such as shark fin soup. Lush created a product especially for the campaign, Shark Fin Soap, which is blue, made with seaweed and sea salt and with a cardboard shark fin sticking out of the top.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Simon Constantine described how Lush’s reputation as a ‘campaigning company’ has attracted an eclectic mix of employees over the years.

He said: ‘One guy was studying biochemistry then decided to be a pop star and is now dreaming up products, another who did a philosophy degree is a keen activist. I wouldn’t call them a ragbag, that might not be polite.’

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