List of Garden Talks

 Gertrude Jekyll - a look at this fabulous lady in hob-nailed boots who made such an    impact on English gardening and gave the courage for women to make gardening a profession. We`ll look at the making of Munstead Wood, her relationship with Edwin Lutyens and the gardens she designed.


 Miss Willmott`s Ghost – discover the history behind Miss Ellen Willmott, who Gertrude Jekyll believed to be the greatest woman gardener. Ellen Willmott was more than just the lady who scattered Eryngium giganteum seeds at other gardens! Find out about her glorious garden at Warley Place and the plants that still bear her name today.


 How to get knotted! – a look at the development of the knot garden in England. Until the         English  Landscape Movement swept them away the gardens were packed with stunning enknotted designs on a grand scale. Find out the plants used, the elaborate designs and the difference between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ knots!

History of the Cottage Garden – illustrated with drawings, it relates the history of the cottage garden, the uses of plants and their country names, sayings and old wives tales. Find out about ‘by hook and by crook,’ ‘pot luck,’ and much more. A highly evocative talk always really enjoyed.


Funny Garden Features – illustrated with cartoons, this talk gives a history of the more unusual and weird features used in gardens from the Romans to the Victorians.  Prepare to be amazed!


Shakespeare’s Cottage Flowers – Shakespeare refers to the cottage flowers he knew and loved in his plays and sonnets. Midsummer Night’s Dream & The Winter’s Tale in particular have many references which help us to understand which plants were Elizabethan favourites and how they were used.


The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew – a talk that traces the history of these spectacular gardens from the estates of Richmond Palace and Kew House to the present day. The important men who worked there reads like a ‘who’s who’ of gardening – Bridgeman, Brown, Chambers, Joseph Banks, William and Joseph Hooker – simply a wonderful story of the development of this garden.


English Elysiums – a look at two really important landscape gardens that were designed and developed by amateurs. Painshill and Stourhead are two stunning picturesque landscapes based on the classical theme - each with a circuit walk around a lake. Take a stroll around these beautiful gardens which are full of surprises!


Cottage Cures & Superstitions – a look at various plants (wild/cottage), their uses, supposedly medicinal properties and connected superstitions. Find out why country folk swallowed a live spider or rolled naked in a bed of nettles!


Sissinghurst – More than a white garden – a walk around Vita Sackville-West’s famous garden via a slide show with emphasis on style and stunning colour combinations. How did this wonderful garden come about and what makes it so special?


Six of the Best – nothing to do with caning in the garden! A slide show and talk of my six favourite gardens in Britain – Chatsworth, Powis Castle, Dorothy Clive Garden, Hodnet Hall, Hestercombe & Knighthayes.


Hampton Court Palace Gardens – this talk traces the garden from the Tudor opulence of Henry VIII through to the opening of the gardens to the public by Queen Victoria. It might be famous for its wonderful maze but you’ll find out this was but a small part of William and Mary’s sumptuous Dutch gardens which included the largest parterre garden in Britain.


Rethinking Your Garden – plenty of ideas for re-designing part of the garden, hiding eyesores, creating new borders, making the garden low maintenance, putting in a feature. You’ll get tips on ideas like ‘repeat planting’ and the ‘importance of paths.’


A Year in the Life of a Cottage Garden – charts a cottage garden throughout a year. Illustrated with slides, it gives lots of ideas on design and planting (dry sun/shade in particular); and includes many anecdotes relating to the old cottage plants.


A Brief History of the English Garden – a gallop through history from the Roman Garden to the present day showing the development of the garden. Who influenced what and when; and which plants and features made the most impact. Drawings and slides.


Pests – Mr Mole & Friends – this talk takes a look at the various methods with which to deal with moles, mice, rabbits, deer and the greatest pest of all – the slug!! Hopefully some of them will be of use?


Colour in the Garden – Colour schemes, coloured borders, the use of repeat planting to create continuity in borders. Hot spots & cool corners. The colours best for dry sites and north borders. Illustrated with slides.


Coping with a Dry Garden – a talk on how to cope with hot, dry, full sun positions and dry shady ones. Even a few ideas for dense dry shade!  Ideas on how to retain moisture. Includes plant lists for both areas to try in your own garden.


Companion Planting – a look into the old idea of growing plants together that benefit one another. Do plants deal with pests and disease on others, and if so which should be grown?

A must for anyone growing vegetables or who has constant problems with greenfly and blackspot on roses.


Land of Ten Thousand Lakes – a talk with slides about the gardens of Minnesota, USA. Find out about their native plants, growing season, and which plants we grow in Britain that come from Minnesota.  Oh! – and if you think we have bad winters, think again!


History of the Harvest Festival – traces the celebrations of this important rural festival from the Saxon times to the present day. Corn dollies, the ‘Harvest Home’, stooking and gleaning; and the part played by the eccentric Rev Hawker.


Pot Luck – this talk gives an insight into the old country sayings and their origins. Have you any idea why you ‘Gather nuts in May’, ‘Touch wood’, or buy ‘A pig in a poke’? The talk looks at all those sayings that originated in the cottage garden and why they were considered important.


Plant Histories – most of the plants we grow are not actually native to Britain; so where did they come from, why were they imported and when? A fascinating talk with a display of plants to guess when they first arrived – you’ll get a few surprises!


Amusing Quotes – a highly humorous and entertaining collection of quotes, stories, sayings and poems from famous and not so famous gardeners. Highly entertaining - be prepared for a damn good laugh!


Cottage Favourites – a slide show illustrating those plants which were always essential to any cottage garden and what made them indispensable and so well loved for centuries. Lots of anecdotes relating to the flowers and their cottage uses.


Chatsworth & Joseph Paxton – Paxton made Chatsworth the greatest garden in Europe during the Victorian period. How did he achieve this and at the same time become a hero in the public’s eye. A look at this workaholic head gardener who achieved so many great things in his lifetime and was looked upon as Brunel’s equal.


Ancient Turf Mazes – a talk and slide show looking at the English turf maze; a feature literally cut out of grass which at one time was widespread in Britain. Only eight now remain – you’ll discover where and why they were constructed.


The English Landscape Garden – this very English garden took the country by storm in the 18th century transforming the landscape and making ‘natural’ gardening into an art form. We’ll look at the big three – Kent, Brown & Repton and see how each viewed the landscape garden.


Joseph Banks – a look at this fascinating Lincolnshire man; his voyage with Captain Cook; his work as unofficial director at Kew; his new plant introductions and the reason he is known as the ‘Father of Australia’.


David Douglas ‘Conifer Man’ – this talk traces the adventures of the Scot David Douglas along the west coast of N. America where he discovered and sent back the first seed of the conifers which would grace many gardens. This sounds like an Indiana Jones epic!


The Tradescants – this talk takes a look at the two Tradescants: John the Elder, a Royal gardener at Oatlands and great plantsman; and John the Younger, the first plant hunter in Virginia.