Monday, 1 August 2016

Archives, Potting sheds and Databases: the Annual Lecture

The annual lecture this year is being given by Simon Gulliver, National Trust Gardens Consultant.
It looks like it will be a really interesting talk and this is the main fundraising event for the Leicestershire and Rutland Gardens Trust.  All the profits go to LRGT's Schools into Gardening Scheme, a very worthy cause.


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Moving Heaven and Earth.....

This year we celebrate the tercentenary of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown- the creator of many of England’s most cherished landscapes.

Although he has his critics (visionary- or vandal?) there’s no doubt that Brown’s name is synonymous with the smoothly contoured hills and perfectly placed watercourses that so closely copy nature. The very essence of “Englishness.”
Croome Park NT Images/ David Noton

I have always been fascinated by his engineering skills- his ability to manipulate water-  changing watercourses and creating of lakes.  Just the temerity he had to sweep away whole villages if they stood in the way of his plans to create an idealised view.  How did he manage to picture the finished landscape, with none of our modern measuring tools and digital equipment?  How did they work on such a vast scale with none of our powerful earth- moving equipment?

“Moving Heaven and Earth: Capability Brown’s Gift of Landscape,” is the title of Steffie Shields’ Spring Lecture for the LRGT. 
Steffie Shields

It is also the title of her new book, due to be published in May.  Celebrated historian, photographer and writer  Steffie will explore the surviving highlights of Brown’s career, and will include local works  at Belvoir Castle , Stapleford Park, and Burghley House.  
Burghley Lake (photo from

Steffie is organising an exhibition in London of contemporary photography   as part of the Capability Brown Tercentenary Celebrations. She is on the University of Cambridge Tutors Panel, Institute of Continuing Education, Madingley, and is Advisor to the Steering Group working towards the national celebrations this year.

Moving Heaven and Earth; Capability Brown’s Gift of Landscape; Saturday 12th March 2016 2pm: Please note change of venue:

The venue has been changed from Kenwood Bowling Club to:
Knighton Rd
Guests Welcome £2 payable on the door.  After the lecture, there will be tea and cakes.
Also:  Book Now! As part of our Capability Brown celebrations, we are hosting a trip to Croome Park on May 19th with lunch in the walled garden. Please see the website for details.

By Karen Gimson 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

LRGT Garden Visits for 2016

Our first garden visit of the year will be to Easton Walled Gardens and Little Ponton Hall near Grantham in Lincolnshire.
(Photograph by kind permission of Fred Cholmeley)
Easton Hall, home to the Cholmeley family for nearly 400 years, was demolished in 1951 and the gardens abandoned. The family still own the estate and, in 2001, began the revival of the gardens. The remains you can see today include parts of the Formal Gardens, the Gatehouse and the Stable yard. The gardens are renowned for their winter display of snowdrops and aconites and for sweet peas in the summer. The trust first visited in 2010.  Easton Walled Garden is an RHS partner garden.
(Photograph by kind permission of Fred Cholmeley)
Little Ponton Hall and its gardens lie in the curve of the River Witham.  The 18th century house, home to Mrs Rosemary McCorquodale, is surrounded by immaculate lawns and spring flower -filled borders. The 200 year old cedar tree looks beautiful set against the architecture of the house.   In the walled vegetable garden there are the Victorian greenhouses full of exotic plants, and a listed dovecote. The most recent project is the development of a herb garden.
(Photograph by kind permission of Gillian Rudman)
This is a magical, secret garden, rarely opened to the public and only for one weekend in 2016.  Adjoining the garden is the tiny village church dedicated to St. Guthlac.
In  early spring, swathes of snowdrops cover the river banks, and aconites form a yellow carpet along the path to the church.

Garden visits planned for later this year include Croome Park (May 19)  Renishaw Hall and Gardens (June 26) and Heath House and Trentham Gardens (16 August). 
Karen Gimson

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Brooksby Horticulture Award

I love to see young people getting on and doing well in life.  It’s great to see youngsters flourishing- with a little bit of a helping hand.

And the LRGT do just that by providing a grant to a Brooksby College Student each year. The funds for the grant come from our annual autumn lecture at Leicester University.

In the past three years we have had Cleve West, Joe Swift and James Alexander Sinclair. Other speakers have been Bunny Guinness, Chris Beardshaw and Anna Pavord. 
Our 2015 speaker James Alexander Sinclair. 
The grant - awarded for outstanding progress on a horticulture course- last year went to Marcus Chevin.
I asked Marcus to take part in our Five Minute Interview. 
Marcus Chevin
Q: Who inspired you most? 
A: My Dad who started his own landscaping and gardening business and worked hard to make it a        success. 
Q: What did you love best about your course?

A: At College you get to experience a wide range of activities and the subjects allow you to learn a diverse range of skills and gain knowledge. One day we might concentrate on Garden Design and the next we may be learning how to use chainsaws or understanding the ecology of different environments.
Photograph by kind permission of James Alexander Sinclair

Q   In Five years, where do you want to be?

A.I want to be working full time with my Dad’s business doing landscaping and gardening

Q  The LRGT Grant was spent on?

A.      I used it to purchase drawing equipment for Garden Design – compasses, drawing board, drawing pens

Q       Being chosen by the LRGT was great because?

A       It was special because it was nice to know my hard work at college was recognised and it enable me to purchase my own design equipment
Photograph by kind permission of James Alexander Sinclair

Q Favourite hobby?

A. Football!!!

Q Would like to spend the day working with? – you can name three people.

A.      Monty Don, Alan Titchmarsh and my DAD

Marcus, who is 20, studied Btec Level 3 Diploma in horticulture over two years.

Karen Gimson

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Some photos of my garden today

It snowed overnight here.  I always love that moment when you draw back the curtains and the view has been transformed.  Snow has that magic quality of hiding all the defects. 
I’m glad I left the seed heads.  Each one has a bobble hat of snow. 
Quite honestly, it’s been too wet to get out there and do any kind of gardening for weeks.  The hellebore leaves are untrimmed. Weeds and brambles abound. I’ve given up on the idea of dividing the perennials. And the veg plot will be a no-dig garden this year.  Walking on it would do more damage than good.

What’s happening in your garden at the moment?  Please let me know, and share your own garden photos too.   Here is some of mine to start us off.  
Against the sunny house wall there's an Algerian iris which is full of flower all through the winter. I always pick a flower to put on my work desk every morning. Connecting me with the outdoors - which is where I am happiest- to be honest.
The view from the potting shed. The trees  are willow, ash, cherry, hazel, beech and field maple. They look glorious in the autumn. We planted all of them as saplings.
The potting shed window- reflecting today's snowy scene.

I think I love the snow so much because there is nothing that can be done today.  Just stand, stare and enjoy the beauty.
Frozen wildlife pond. Even the arching brambles look pretty in the snow. The "layered" shrub is a viburnum plicatum.
My pergola goes all the way from the back door to the front drive, and there's a " spider's web" where it turns the corner. It's covered with unruly climbing roses, honeysuckle and clematis.


Friday, 8 January 2016

Snowdrop time is upon us

This week I spoke to James Leatherland, who’s been opening his garden for the National Garden Scheme for 23 years- helping to raise £60,000 for charity.
James, who’s 84, is famous for his snowdrop displays, and for raising new varieties.
Mum and I met him four years ago, and I learned that he’d named snowdrops after his wife, Joan May, and his daughter Fiona, and son Nicholas.
Since then, he’s also grown new varieties and named them after his grandchildren Amy Jade and George Benjamin. 
I would love to name one after my Mum, Marion, who’s been such an inspiration to me in so many ways, so I will be having a go at sowing seed and looking out for a new snowdrop variety!
It’s also amazing to see how much money can be raised by simply opening your own garden, and selling plants you’ve grown yourself. It’s given me something to think about, as this year I am determined to help more charities in any way I can.
The NGS Yellow Book scheme last year  donated £2.6 million to charities that mean a lot to me, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospices UK and Parkinson’s UK.
And so many people have benefited from donations to The Carers Trust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute and the Cavell Nurses Trust.
NGS also supports gardening charities including Perennial, the RHS Trainees, Gardening Museum internship and NT Gardening Careerships.
You can visit James’ half acre garden on March 13 this year. Luckily, many of his snowdrops are late varieties, so should still be in flower.
Here’s the address:
18 Church Hill
For more info go to –

For more snowdrops: The LRGT also has a coach trip planned to Easton Walled Gardens and Little Ponton Hall in Lincs on 13th February. More details from our website
Photo Fred Cholmeley

This blog is written by Karen and Alison and features items we hope our members will find inspiring. These are our own views and opinions.

Please do add a comment, as we would love to hear from you.