Our Events programme for 2017 consisted of a wide variety of educational and enjoyable activities. Events ranged from viewing the RHS Lindley Library’s impressive collection of horticultural books and objects to exploring the beautiful vistas of Albury Park during our John Evelyn Study Day. Highlights of the events can be found below:
Winter Lecture Series 2017
COLIN JONES: THE SECRET GARDENS OF LONDON
Colin Jones, a gardener, photographer and traveller, led us on a brief and pleasurable walk through the ‘secret gardens of London’ during his lecture. Colin described London as the greenest city in the world with 6oo public parks and gardens covering 67 square miles and the world’s greatest botanic collection at Kew. His lecture covered the history of many of these gardens including The Museum of Garden History and the secret gardens within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. Colin Jones is chairman of Sanderstead Horticultural Society, a member of the Surrey Guild of Judges and lectures in horticulture and is a listed lecturer for the RHS.
Val Bott: Patent Elms, Pineapples and Pears – Nursery Gardening in West London 1650-1800
Val Bott discussed her research into the heyday of nursery gardening in the parishes of Chiswick, Brentford and Isleworth along the River Thames. These garden grounds were well located for river and road transport. This community of gardeners shared their expertise and was linked by ties of business and marriage. Many of these early nurseries were passed down through the generations and developed their own expertise in particular plants. Val Bott shares her research on the subject through www.nurserygardeners.com. She has been an independent museum consultant since 2000 and has over 25 years’ experience of managing museums and archives. She supports many heritage-related charities and in June 2014 was awarded an MBE for this work.
Beryl Saich: A Neglected Masterpiece Rediscovered: The Work of Blanche Elizabeth Edith Henrey
Beryl, a longstanding SGT member and accomplished researcher, was shown a beautiful, magnificent three-volume work of British Botanical and Horticultural Literature before 1800 by Blanche Elizabeth Edith Henrey (1906-1983) on one of her trips to the RHS Lindley Library. Intrigued by their quality, Beryl researched their origins. These volumes were a 30-year labour of love by Henrey and were first published in 1975. She was a talented photographer and, in addition to providing the photographs for Flower Portraits and Trees and Shrubs throughout the Year, she produced calendars for Country Life with a worldwide circulation. She also wrote No ordinary Gardener: Thomas Knowlton 1691-1781 which was published after her death. Henrey gained the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners for her 'the superb quality of her work'.
Garden Visits and Study Days 2017
John Evelyn Study Day
Tours of Albury Park and Wotton House
In April 2017 we hosted 80 people at a study day celebrating John Evelyn’s contribution to horticulture and the landscape, including tours of Albury Park and Wotton House. John Evelyn (1620-1706) is remembered as a diarist and author but his influence on gardens and horticulture spans the centuries. Beryl Saich gave an illustrated and informative talk on Evelyn’s life, his influences and contributions. This was followed by a private tour of the magnificent terraces and landscape at Albury Park designed by John Evelyn for Henry Howard, who later became the Duke of Norfolk. Albury is a rare survivor and outstanding example of a mid-17th century landscape. After lunch, we focused on the history of Wotton House and its proposed conservation and development. Wotton House was John Evelyn’s ‘most cherished place on earth’. He loved its sense of rural seclusion, the long chalk spine of the downs, the eminence of Leith Hill. Although Wotton House is now a country house hotel, the gardens are still recognisable as those from John Evelyn’s original designs.
Barnett Hill Country House Hotel, Blackheath
Not daunted by an overnight deluge and howling gales, we visited the beautiful gardens of Barnett Hill, built for Frank Cook in 1905 and now a country house hotel. For more than two decades, Estates Manager, Della Connelly, has expertly cared for the 26 acres of parkland, woodland and formal grounds.
A show-stopping herbaceous border runs parallel to the back of the hotel, featuring silver-leaved plants and dramatic architectural specimens including cardoons and giant thistles. The romantic pond garden enchanted us with its bold plantings of a single variety of pink scented rose Comte de Chambord in full flower, forming a backdrop to so-called ‘50p’ island borders with their annual bedding.
2 Chinthurst Lodge, Wonersh
This delightful one-acre garden has been open through the National Garden Scheme for over 20 years and lovingly expanded and maintained by its owners. The tranquil setting, surrounded by fields and nestled close to wooded hills, belies the excitement of what is to be seen within the garden’s boundaries. The house dates back to the 1700s, but the garden has been artfully divided into individual ‘rooms’ each packed with innovative planting. Original features, such as two old wells and ancient espaliered apple trees in the kitchen garden are preserved with new ideas, many inspired by other well-known gardens, woven throughout. The new Millennium garden is peaceful with a central formal pond. By the kitchen garden, cleverly concealing the greenhouse, were two stunning blue borders filled with a combination of delphiniums, campanulas and aconitum.
Loseley Park, Compton
After weeks of hot temperatures, visitors relished the cooler weather while exploring the beautifully maintained gardens and house at Loseley Park through guided tours. The More-Molyneux family has owned Loseley Park since the beginning of the 16th century and our guide pointed out the fine portraits, furniture, textiles and other works of art including the magnificent panelling from Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace. The walled garden of 2.5 acres has been divided into a number of rooms including the Rose Garden with over 1,000 rose bushes, a Flower Garden with mainly hot-coloured planting and the White Garden with its beautiful spires of foxgloves, bountiful hydrangeas and silver-foliaged plants. The Herb and Organic Vegetable Garden were delightfully arranged with interesting varieties and companion plants. Our garden guide talked about the extensive and necessary renovations to the moat and the continuing improvements to the meadowlands. From the Tithe Barn and the front of the house one was also able to appreciate the magnificent landscape of the lakes and the Surrey countryside.
RHS Lindley Library Tour, London
The Lindley Library holds collections on art, garden design and garden history. We saw a range of precious books including a Humphry Repton Red Book. We viewed old garden catalogues and were amazed at the range of flowers and vegetables available to gardeners in Victorian and Edwardian times. We saw a collection of sepia photographs of pre-war gardeners and nurserymen and postcards depicting the parks, public gardens and seaside esplanades in the 1950s and 1960s, most of which no longer exist. Finally we visited the botanical art department and saw a Florilegium from the 1700s with large paintings (similar in size to A3) of the lily family – everything from Narcissi to Hippeastrum and some of the latest botanical art added to the collection – a full size painting of Giant Hogweed – to include its roots, seeds and leaves in incredible detail.
West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, West Sussex
Members were treated to a lovely two hour walk around the gardens exploring all the interesting and quirky features of the 90 acres of gardens and 240 acres of parkland, which have been restored and developed under the current stewardship of Jim Buckland, Sarah Wain and their gardening team.
The Garden Museum, Lambeth, London
Members and their guests were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the recently refurbished Garden Museum. Our guide discussed John Tradescent and his eclectic collection of objects, how they came to be at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, the establishment of the Garden Museum and its future aspirations for recording current day garden designers and their achievements. We also admired the selection of watercolours on display in honour of ‘The Tradescent’s Orchard’, a 17th century volume of 66 watercolours of various fruit varieties. This volume is one of the Bodleian Library’s most treasured possessions and had never been on loan outside Oxford before – a rare treat!
Englefield House, Englefield, Berkshire
The inscription on a stone staircase in the garden that reads, “If you help towards Englefield garden either in flowers or invention you shall be welcome thither”, written in a letter of 1601, demonstrates that the garden was being planned 400 years ago. The house has remained in the Paulet family since 1635, is listed at Grade II* and the superb gardens are Grade II on the Historic Parks & Gardens Register. Head Gardener, Sue Broughton, led us on an informative tour around the immediate 9 acre garden surrounding the house. Highlights were the stone terracing with a rose swag and carefully selected planting in the front beds, the yellow and blue garden with a long stone bench seat, the white garden and some wonderful specimen trees, which included a Giant Sequoia. The views out to the countryside from the elevated gardens cut into the hillside were nothing if not spectacular.