President: The Lord Fairhaven DL, KStJ
Council of Management
A garden historian, with interests in the Tudor and Jacobean periods, and a graduate from Newnham College, I am now settled in the county, living in Wilburton. I was formerly Inspector of Historic Parks and Gardens for Wales and am now a Council member of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust. I serve on the conservation committee of the Gardens Trust and as a trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales and of Hobson’s Conduit Trust in Cambridge.
I joined CGT in 2002 having accidentally fallen into a Garden Design course and discovering the garden modules of the ACE History of Art Diploma; quite a change after Oxford Jurisprudence, practising as a solicitor and raising a family in France and the USA. CGT is compulsive, giving me the opportunity to meet exciting people, enjoy the thrill of visiting new gardens and of researching local and national history through the lens of plantsmen and garden designers. Now and again, it even inspires me to wrest forth a modicum of fruitfulness from my own patch of the impressively fertile Fens.
I am a CGT founding member who has always been inspired by the high quality of its publications – the regular newsletters and occasional volumes. These have helped me appreciate a county which I never previously considered to have remarkable landscape or numbers of notable gardens (I was brought up in Dorset). Having recently retired as an Architect specialising in historic buildings, my knowledge and interest in their surrounding gardens and landscapes is integral for understanding their evolution and significance. I now have time to develop my own garden and to visit many more. Reading about them is not enough.
I love gardens and gardening and like many enthusiasts I am totally self-taught. I am a Trustee of Ramsey Walled Garden, a restoration project initiated by the Trust. This has taken much of my time for the last 15 years or so. We are proud to have created a working walled kitchen garden, much valued by our local community and further afield. I studied Geology at university and did my doctoral research on ancient rocks from the NW highlands. After post-doctoral research I changed track completely setting up a small company conducting social research mainly for public-sector clients.
I became interested in Garden History in 2001 after taking a short introductory course at Madingley Hall. Further courses followed and, after retiring, I completed an MA in Garden History at Birkbeck in 2011, and am now continuing to pursue an MPhil at Writtle University College. I’ve been a volunteer gardener at Wimpole for over 10 years, where I pick up useful tips and the occasional plant for my very small garden in Cambridge.
I have recently completed a Garden History Diploma online from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and am developing into a JC Loudon enthusiast. I enjoy researching and writing about any and all topics, experimenting in my garden (not pretty, but survives the consequences of my lack of green fingers), observing nature while walking my dog, and being a grandmother. In earlier life, I qualified as a doctor at Addenbrooke’s and worked there and at the West Suffolk Hospital before doing higher specialist training and working as a Public Health physician.
My gardening genes come from my grand-father, an Audley End gardener who later laid out a Jekyll garden at Townhill Park, Hampshire. After a Wye College BSc, my Cambridge PhD examined the public use of private land for outdoor recreation. My post-doctoral research studied the impact of hedge removal when they were being grubbed up wholesale. Maternal duty led to a course in Garden Design, where I found my skills lay in soft landscaping. My husband of 48 years died four years ago after a long illness but life continues with my youngest son and his wife producing my first grand-child.
My gardening interests come via my grandfather’s allotment and my parents’ garden-gate sales of strawberries and chrysanthemums. An OU graduate and an Associate Lecturer in Business Studies, I gained an MSc from Leicester University while with Anglian Water. Once retired, Cambridge ICE courses in Garden History were followed by an Advanced Diploma dissertation on parks and public health. A previous Secretary to Huntingdon in Bloom, I volunteer in Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s gardens, play piano and classical guitar, and am discovering painting in acrylics (pictures not walls), whilst looking after Charlie, my Border Collie. A former CoM member, I’m looking forward to being involved once again.
Jane Bhagat looks forward to when in-person visits can once again be arranged.
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