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Autumn Lecture and AGM:
12th October 2018 in Purley Barn

The meeting was held at Purley Barn and started with the Annual General Meeting (“AGM”).  It was Christina Hill-Williams’ first meeting as President and she gave a warm speech highlighting both the successes of the past and the actions underway to address the challenges of the future.  This theme was echoed by Charles Elly’s speech who also thanked all of the Trustees for their commitment to the organisation.

The AGM was followed by Simon Goodenough’s lecture about Folly Farm in Berkshire. Simon is the Estate Manager for the Oppenheimer family who own Folly Farm.  Simon gave us a visual tour of Folly Farm with stunning photos of the garden highlighting the planned seasonal changes.  It was obvious how much work had been done since 2007 to re-establish Sir Edwin Lutyen’s design from 1912.  The work by Dan Pearson to re-interpret both Gertrude Jekyll’s and Lutyen’s garden has produced an historical garden that is both fresh and fascinating.

Simon’s talk has generated so much interest to see Folly Farm.  There is normally a waiting list as the garden is open to the public only a few times each year.  The BGT is really pleased that we have a date in June 2019 to see the garden.  Please keep an eye on our website to find out when booking for the visit will be possible – places to see Folly Farm will go very quickly! 

Pictured at the 2018 AGM, from left to right

Simon Goodenough, Estate Manager at Folly Farm, Berkshire

Carol Jackson-Doerge, Chair of West Berkshire Council

Christina Hill-Williams, President, Berkshire Gardens Trust

Graham Barker, High Sheriff of Berkshire

Charles Elly, Chair of Berkshire Gardens Trust

Buscot Park garden visit with garden tour:
15 August 2018

Buscot Park is a historic house and garden, now owned by the National Trust but managed by the Faringdon family who have been at Buscot since 1889. The Faringdons have amassed a collection of paintings and our guide for the garden tour was Roger Vlitos, who is the Curator of the Collection.

Our garden tour started in the walled garden, originally the kitchen garden and dating from 1782 when the house, two lakes and parkland pastures were created. The walled garden is now called the Four Seasons garden and is bordered by the very nicely planted area known as the Parent’s walk.  It was lovely to see colour in this area of the garden, despite this summer’s heatwave.  We then moved on to the Pleasure Garden, an area of broad avenues between neatly clipped hedges, trees and sheltered dells. Ancient and modern sculptures in a series of varied spaces are a key feature of the garden, scattered throughout to form focal points, counterpoint garden features and frame views.  One of these views takes in the Peto Water Garden.  Harold Peto (1854 – 1933) was a famous designer of formal gardens inspired by the Italian tradition and the view down the canal towards the lake is a justifiably popular image. The tour was longer than advertised because there was so much to see but some people did manage to squeeze in a short visit to the house which complemented the earlier exploration of the gardens.

Roger’s garden tour was informative and very entertaining, as he shared both the history and foibles of the Farringdon family and their friends, along with the creation and development of the Grade II* registered landscape. These anecdotes provided a colourful backdrop to our walk around the grounds.  Roger explained a lot about the frescoes, statues and fountains in the grounds, providing quirky details that one would have missed without such a knowledgeable guide. This included a relatively new garden feature that represented a pyramid in the Citrus Garden (part of the Egyptian Avenue) and the rather odd display of terracotta warriors just outside the Walled Garden. 

Buscot Park is quite different from Rooksnest. The latter is a modern garden with lots of colourful, herbaceous planting.  Buscot Park is a historical landscape with layers of changes made over the last 200 years with an emphasis on expertly-clipped hedges and trees, long views and water.  BGT’s two summer visits provided a really interesting contrast!

Rooksnest best border.JPG


26 June 2018

28 members and their guests enjoyed the visit to Rooksnest Gardens near Lambourn in West Berkshire. Although it is a relatively modern garden mostly designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, an internationally-renowned landscape designer, its ten acres are set out in a traditional English design.

Head Gardener, Kevin, gave us a brief overview of the garden along with a map, and encouraged us to wander through the garden at our own pace. Kevin accompanied us - answering questions as we strolled. This informality worked very well on one of the sunniest, warmest days of the year. Fortunately, there was lots of shade and well-positioned benches, and a light, refreshing breeze sprang up.

While the whole garden was wonderful, my personal favourite was the Rose Garden. This was completely redesigned and replanted in 2017. Despite being only a year old, the roses looked well-established and were blooming profusely, and they were interplanted with perennials and Stipa gigantea. With its palette of mostly white and various shades of red and pink, the whole effect was romantic, blousy and very lovely.

The care and attention of the gardening team is evident throughout the gardens. No weeds, every grass edged clipped, discrete and careful staking – even the greenhouses were immaculate!

The garden tour was followed by delicious home-made cakes and tea in the open-sided barn.

All in all, a splendid afternoon in a beautiful garden!

Spring Lecture 2018 – Celebrating Humphry Repton


This year we are celebrating the life of Humphry Repton, the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century and the successor to Capability Brown. Repton died 200 years ago on the 24th March, 1818.

Ben Viljoen talked about the events surrounding Repton’s visit to Purley, the time he spent there with Anthony Morris Storer who had just acquired Purley Park, and the production of the Purley Red Book, one of the finest of Repton’s red books.

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