Gardening talks

Gardening talks

Who am I?

I’m an amateur gardener. I’ve been collecting, growing and killing plants for at least 30 years. I started cultivating plants 5 floors up on a windy parapet in Central London and currently have a garden in Wiltshire. I write a gardening piece for the monthly UK magazine LandScape, chronicling my ups and downs in the garden.

I am happy to deliver talks to gardening groups of 30 or more. The talks run for around 45 minutes. If you would like to consider me as a speaker please get in touch to discuss dates, location and fees. NB: Any proposed venue requires a projector screen and stand for my talks.


Scents and scentsability

Lilium regale one of the plants featured in my talk.
Lilium regale

The scent of a flower or brushed by foliage can evoke memories of times and people past, give instant pleasure, or repulse! and yet gardeners often forget to factor scent into their plantings.

Smell is also an integral part of the act of gardening – weeding, turning over the soil, planting. Petrichor, rain falling on dry earth, releasing the bound-in scents. The overwhelming heady mix of scents in the air on a still, warm May evening.

This talk is a ramble around some of the many scented plants I know, grow or have grown. An eclectic trip through the seasons looking at familiar, and not so familiar and unusual scented plants that can be grown to enhance a garden.

Kecks, lace and poison

Sussex Prairie Garden Peucedanum verticillare seedheads
Sussex Prairie Garden – Peucedanum verticillare seedheads

If someone mentions umbellifers, (apiaceae), one might conjure up an image of a froth of wild Cow Parsley, (Anthriscus sylvestris), edging roadsides in early summer. Or you might picture an elegant shaded planting featuring Baltic Parsley, (Cenolophium denudatum), or the dramatic rich purple globes of Angelica gigas in flower. But there is far more to the apiaceae family which also includes eryngium, astrantia, many spices, and of course carrots and parsnips!

I’m still learning about this fascinating family, I have many yet to grow. In this talk I look at some of the more decorative umbellifers, and how designers and plantsmen have incorporated this fascinating family into their garden designs, and how we gardeners can make more of them too.

Conversations with my garden

Rose Louis XIV
Rose Louis XIV a china rose dating to 1859

I was asked why I call some plants he or she? Often, (but not always), it’s because they have a person’s name. I hope I’m not the only gardener who can be found admonishing rose ‘Louis XIV’ for his troublesome blackspot, or sympathising with Shasta daisy ‘Fiona Coghill’ over her bent and drooping heads after a rain shower.

‘Who Does Your Garden Grow?’, a book by Alex Pankhurst published in 1992, first sparked my curiosity about some of the people behind our garden plants and led me on this journey of discovery.

This talk isn’t about the big plant hunters like Farrer and Wilson. Let me introduce you to some of the other personalities, plantsmen, gardeners, nurseries, breeders and finders who have contributed to my, (and your) garden.