Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 August 2014
The seminar was booked out as there were three wonderful speakers, Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter House, Alexis Datta, Head Gardener at Sissinghurst from 2004 to 2013 and Helen Dillon whose garden is open to the public in Dublin. Even after two days of lectures we could have stayed for more.
The seminar started off with a garden tour of the formal gardens with Neil Porteous, Head Gardener. He showed his new and lush plantings with increased height in the formal beds and talked about the new fernery and where the new rhododendrons are going to be planted.
Fergus spoke about ‘Good Planting and Designing with Plants – the Dixter Way’ and ‘Succession Planting for a Long Season’. We could have listened to him all day telling us how to make the eye work with contrast in a bed, the right plant in the right place, doing our homework, not having a ball and chain and doing what suited us individually in our own gardens.
Alexis Datta, Head Gardener at Sissinghurst from 2004 to 2013 spoke about the history of the garden at Sissinghurst and about the plants in the White Garden with white, different greens, greys, and silver foliage against the dark yew hedge. She also spoke about ‘The Roses of Sissinghurst’. Who would have thought you could do so much with roses. She explained in detail how to tie roses on to ‘benders’ which were hazel twigs bent and stuck into the ground. The roses were tied on to the benders to form a dome shaped rose bush. She had amazing slides of hundreds of roses.
Helen Dillon’s garden in Dublin is open to the public and her theme was ‘In a Dublin Garden – 40 years of reinvention’ and ‘Keeping the Show on the Road’. She spoke very informatively, lovingly and amusingly about her plants in her garden. She uses instant plants in pots to keep colour in the garden. I have been to see her garden in Dublin and she seems to have some of every plant ever grown. I think she loves each and every one of them.
A delicious lunch was organised on Sunday by the restaurant staff, so thanks to them for pulling out all the stops. It was a wonderful seminar and we are already getting excited about next year.