Learn from the experts

One of the best ways of learning is to consult an expert and there are plenty of opportunities for gardeners in the Cotswolds.

February sees the snowdrop season get underway and the return of the popular Colesbourne Park study day.

This year, head gardener Chris Horsfall will be giving his first lecture, entitled ‘Never Waste a Bulb’. In it he will outline a typical year at Colesbourne (pictured above) and how he manages the garden.

In addition, ‘More Special Snowdrops’ by galanthophile Jim Almond will feature some unusual varieties and will give tips on everything from twin scaling to photography.

Numbers for the study day on February 11 are limited to 35 and places cost £35 per person to include lunch, refreshments and a private tour of the Colesbourne collection.

Award-winning designer Chris Beardshaw, designer and writer Mary Keen, vegetable grower and writer Lia Leendertz and bulb expert Christine Skelmersdale are among those taking part in The Generous Gardener lecture days.

the coach house
The Coach House is the setting for the Generous Gardener lectures

The talks, held in Ampney Crucis near Cirencester, cover topics ranging from growing flowers for cutting, good design and planting, and the gardens at Sissinghurst.

Two speakers, lunch and refreshments are included in the £90 cost of the lecture days, which run from 10.30am to 4pm; the first is on March 31.

Colesbourne Park: http://www.colesbournegardens.org.uk/

 The Generous Gardener: http://thegenerousgardener.co.uk/

Degree of success


The unique history of Painswick Rococo Garden has been put to good use by head gardener Steve Quinton.

It formed part of his studies for a degree in Garden and Landscape History at the University of London.

Steve Quinton
Steve Quinton has just been awarded an MA

Steve, who joined the Painswick tourist attraction two years ago, fitted his studies around work at the 18th century garden and travelled weekly to London for the course, which was paid for by the Friends of the Rococo Garden.

Vicky Aspinall, chair of the Friends, said: “I am thrilled that Steve has done so well and we have enabled the garden to use its resources to encourage and support staff development.”

RHS names designers

The RHS is to work with two of the country’s top designers on plans for its new flagship garden and a revamp of Wisley.

Tom Stuart-Smith will create the overall design for the new RHS Garden Bridgewater, while Christopher Bradley-Hole is to further develop plans for Wisley, including a new visitor hub and welcome area.

The Society’s fifth garden is being made in the lost historic grounds of Worsley New Hall, Salford. The 156-acre garden will include restoring the 10-acre walled kitchen garden and is due to open in 2019.

“There is amazing potential here to make something innovative, relevant and distinctly different,” said Tom Stuart-Smith, who has won eight golds at Chelsea.

Plans for Wisley include a new horticultural science and educational centre, while the improved entrance will encompass exhibition space, a bigger plant centre and shop and an area for specialist nurseries.

Award-winning Christopher Bradley-Hole specialises in contemporary landscapes with a focus on how buildings relate to their surroundings.

Both projects are part of the RHS’ 10-year £160m investment programme to achieve its vision of enriching life through plants and making the UK a greener and more beautiful place.

Hans proves a winner

Gloucestershire florist Hans Haverkamp has wowed the judges at a national flower arranging show.

His entry in the ‘Indulgence – festive table’ class not only came first, he also won Best in Show and an award for his use of foliage.

Hans Haverkamp
Hans’ winning arrangement combined foliage and baubles

Hans, who is based at Twyning, said: “I was so surprised to get first I didn’t hear I had won the show prize for Best Use of Foliage.”

The contest in Blackpool was organised by the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies as part of a festive flower and food show.

Hans will be talking about Christmas flowers next month on The Chatty Gardener

Paul invited down under

Gloucestershire designer Paul Hervey-Brookes will be taking a little bit of England down under next year.

The award-winning designer has been invited to create a large garden at the Melbourne International Flower Show in March, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

Paul, who lives at Berkeley, was thrilled to be asked to take part in what is the largest horticultural show in the southern hemisphere.

“I was delighted to be invited and am looking forward to creating a modern classic English-styled garden.”

Paul Hervey-Brookes
Paul Hervey-Brookes on his 2013 Chelsea garden

He is planning to use a mix of cultivated plants and Australian natives in a natural-look herbaceous meadow. Alongside will run an avenue of large, containerised trees that sweep towards a modern wooden retreat.

“It’s great to be able to work with a local team in Australia who will help bring this garden to life,” he said. “It’s large and looks simple while actually being quite complicated.”

Paul, who started his design career with a garden at the Malvern Autumn Show in 2008, is no stranger to international events; previous successes include gold at the Gardening World Cup in Japan and The Philadelphia Flower Show.

This year, he took gold and Best in Show at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show and has also been awarded top medals at Chelsea and other RHS events.

The Melbourne International Flower Show runs from March 16-20.

Chelsea plans unveiled

An 80ft train carriage, a new centrepiece in the Great Pavilion and an eccentric design by Diarmuid Gavin are among the highlights for Chelsea 2016 unveiled by the RHS this week.

The world famous flower show will also feature plantswoman Rosy Hardy’s debut in show gardening with a design highlighting the threat to chalk streams, and the return of Chelsea favourite Cleve West, whose M&G garden is inspired by Exmoor and uses stone quarried from the Forest of Dean.

Likely to be the talk of the show is Diarmuid Gavin’s ‘The British Eccentrics Garden’ for Harrods, which will ‘perform’ every 15 minutes with rotating topiary, bobbing box balls and patio furniture that rises out of a trapdoor.

More traditional is the creation of Cheltenham designer Chris Beardshaw, who is celebrating the work of Great Ormond Street Hospital with a garden sponsored by Morgan Stanley. Featuring reflective water and a Japanese-inspired main structure, it will be rebuilt at the children’s hospital after the show.

chris beardshaw
Chris Beardshaw on his 2015 gold medal-winning garden

Meanwhile, L’Occitane will be hoping to repeat its gold medal success with the partnership of designer James Basson and landscaper Peter Dowle, who is based near Ruardean. They will be depicting the landscape of Haute Provence to mark the beauty firm’s 40th anniversary.

Peter Dowle
Peter Dowle is building the L’Occitane Garden

Stroud-based charity Meningitis Now is also looking back to its founding 30 years ago but also forward with a garden in the Artisan category that highlights its work saving lives and rebuilding futures.

And there will be a new look to the Great Pavilion where the central monument site, dominated by Hillier Nurseries’ stand for many years, will now be home to an exhibit by hosta and fern specialists Bowdens. The Devon-based nursery is planting up a station with a 1920s Belmond British Pullman carriage as the centrepiece.

More gardens will be confirmed in the next few weeks.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 runs from May 24-28. RHS members’ tickets are on sale now, public tickets go on sale on December 1.

RHS to get new garden

The RHS is to create a new 156-acre garden in the North West as part its wider vision to enrich the nation through plants.

Work at Worsley New Hall, Salford, will include restoring the 10-acre Walled Kitchen Garden, one of the UK’s biggest, recreating features such as the avenue of trees on the Garden Approach and recovering lost terraces.

RHS Garden Bridgewater, which is due to open in 2019, will also have a learning centre for schools, a plant centre and a personal RHS garden advice service.

“The development of the RHS’ new fifth garden will be the biggest hands-on gardening project the charity will have undertaken in its 211-year history,” said RHS Vice President and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh. “Watching how RHS Garden Bridgewater takes shape and grows is going to be fascinating, especially some of the major restoration projects like the Walled Kitchen Garden.”

The project, part of a £100m investment by the society over the next 10 years, is a collaboration between the RHS, Salford City Council and Peel Land and Property and work is due to begin this year. The garden will join the RHS’ existing group of gardens: Wisley in Surrey; Hyde Hall in Essex; Rosemoor in Devon and Harlow Carr in Yorkshire.