Lecture Season 2021

As we emerge from the third lockdown, we continue the successful Zoom lecture programme that we launched in Autumn 2020, now interspersed with live talks, where possible. CGT is delighted to offer members and guests an opportunity to participate. A few days before each Zoom talk, an invitation email will be sent out enabling you to join from your own home. Guests must register with admin to receive the joining details. Most talks will be streamed live using Zoom and notes on how to install and operate Zoom can be found by clicking this link. A brief calendar of events follows below with links (where active) to further information. We hope you will join in these events, for which there is usually no charge to members, and that you will find them stimulating and enjoyable.

Forthcoming events

Date and timeSpeakerTitle
8 December 2021
11:00am – 1:00pm
CGT Christmas Lecture in Kettles Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ
Kim WilkieLandscape architect Kim Wilkie will reveal the deep surgery needed to restore the wonderful Garden Ghosts at Villa La Pietra, Florence. Just a few tickets left!

Past events

Date and timeSpeakerTitle
14 January 2021
7:30pm – 8:30pm
Philip Whaites
Richard Gant
Gardener’s Question Time
23 February 2021
Twigs WayRuins in the Landscape
17 March 2021
Alan JamesClimate, environmental and planning challenges to our gardens and parklands
29 April 2021
(Link available from admin)
Pippa & Steve TempleFrom one great plague to another – the history of the superb Euston Hall garden
20 May 2021
(Link available from admin)
Alison MollerThe Garden of Cosmic Speculation
8 July 2021
Mark NewmanMark will talk about the Studley Royal estate, its water features and impact on the river Skel.
23 September 2021
Beverley GloverThe Cambridge Botanic Garden’s unique role in addressing global challenges.
21 October 2021
Tim Richardson Margaret Helme Lecture Tim will reveal the hidden secrets of Cambridge college gardens, drawing upon his recent book.
6 November 2021
12:00noon – 1:00pm
John ParkerGardens of the Western Cape
18 November 2021
7:30pm – 8:30pm
Zoom talk
Gin WarrenCGT Council Member Gin Warren will dig up the history of Ghastly Churchyards and Brave Men in her talk on two Nonconformist cemeteries.

Zoom Talk: Gin Warren

The tomb of Thomas and Ann Drummond in the Rosary Cemetery, Norwich

Thursday 18 November 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm

Joining details will be sent out during the week of 15 November.

Title Ghastly Churchyards and Brave Men

Abstract This online talk will be about the setting up of two unconsecrated, Nonconformist cemeteries in East Anglia during the first half of the 19th century.

At this time, death – like life – was more straightforward if you were well off, rural and a member of the Church of England. But if you were Nonconformist, the church and state placed constraints on your way of life and how and where you were buried. Most urban churchyards were grossly overcrowded and mismanaged. If you were condemned by penury to live downwind of one and obliged to use its parish pump, even Baldrick wouldn’t swop places with you. The water from one Norwich parish pump was described as “almost pure essence of churchyard”.

Step in the determined and philanthropic Unitarian minister Thomas Drummond, and the convention-defying Bishop of Norwich Henry Bathurst. These men saw a need to allow Nonconformists to be buried using their own services, in their own cemeteries, and for these places to be gardens, not horror shows.

The 1821 unconsecrated Rosary Cemetery in Norwich is testament to their forward-thinking approach, and an early example of a garden cemetery compatible with Sir Christopher Wren’s widely disregarded suggestions of a century before.

Forward two decades, shift to Cambridge and cross paths with the phenomenal J C Loudon. Brought up Presbyterian in a Scottish tenant farming family, he was a social reformer who gave practical expression to his philosophical and political views through garden and landscape design and practice, architecture and education. As well as publishing prodigiously on these topics, this remarkable man made a fortune and lost it, married a science fiction writer, and coped with severe ill health and an amputation.

When Cambridge Nonconformists wanted their own cemetery, it was apt that they should commission him – and utterly typical that he should make Histon Road Cemetery a centrepiece exemplar of his 1843 book On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries and on the Improvement of Churchyards

Our Speaker Gin Warren not only qualified from Addenbrooke’s and worked as a doctor in East Anglia and London but she has also gained her Garden History Diploma from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, thereby developing into a J C Loudon enthusiast. She enjoys researching and writing about any and all topics, experimenting in her garden (not pretty, but survives the consequences of a claimed lack of green fingers), observing nature while walking her dog, and being a grandmother. Gin is a member of the CGT Council of Management.

Members of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Gardens Trusts, the Nonconformist congregations of Norwich and Cambridge, and Friends of the two cemeteries are invited to attend. CGT members will be circulated with Zoom joining details automatically. Other guests are invited to register for the talk by email to admin.



Live Talk: Kim Wilkie

Kim Wilkie is our 2021 Christmas Lecturer, recounting the 10-year restoration of the gardens at Villa La Pietra.

Wednesday 8 December 2021: CGT Christmas Lecture from 11:00am-1:00pm

Seasonal refreshments will be available on arrival. Kim’s talk will start around 11:45am.

Title Garden Ghosts.

Abstract The restoration of a garden is a brutal business: such was Kim Wilkie’s comment on his 10-year project to restore the gardens of the renaissance Villa La Pietra, outside Florence. The prestigious villa, remodelled by the Capponi family in the 17C, was bought by the Actons in 1907, who altered the 57-acre estate to create a formal Baroque Italian garden with extensive stonework, including almost two hundred statues. The gardens reached their peak in the 1930s and, since then, were left to decay gently. Bequeathed to New York University by Sir Harold Acton in 1994, NYU engaged Kim Wilkie to develop a restoration and maintenance plan for the gardens. Kim’s talk will take us through the deep surgery required to bring the gardens back, while retaining the birds, frogs and ghosts of the place, and give them the vigour to last another century.

Our Speaker After 25 years of running his own practice, Kim Wilkie now works as a strategic and conceptual landscape consultant. He collaborates with architects and landscape architects around the world and combines designing with the muddy practicalities of running a small farm in Hampshire, where he is now based. Kim studied history at Oxford and landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, before setting up his landscape studio in London in 1989. He continues to teach and lecture in America; writes optimistically about land and place from Hampshire, and meddles in various UK national committees on landscape and environmental policy. His current projects are focused on regenerative farming combined with human settlement, both in England and North America

Location Kettles Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ. Limited parking is available at Pound Hill; more at Castle Street or Park Street carparks. The Madingley Park and Ride bus stops on Magdalene Street. A lift is available to access the modern lecture room on the third floor.

This Christmas Lecture is open to members of Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust and guests. Seasonal refreshments will be available on arrival until the start of the talk at around 11:45am. Members £12.50; guests £15. The room capacity is 40 people, so please email admin by 1 December and preferably pay by BACS (Cambridgeshire County Garden Trust; sort code 20-29-68, account number 30347639) using your name as reference. As of 19 November, there are just a few tickets left!

Live Talk: John Parker

Prof. John Parker will show stunning examples of Fynbos flowers in his talk following the CGT AGM

Saturday 6 November 2021 12:00 noon – 1:00pm (approx.)
This event has now passed

Title Botanic Gardens of the Western Cape.

Abstract The flowering world is divided into six distinct areas – the Floral Kingdoms. The Cape Floral Kingdom of South Africa is tiny. Here, 9,000 species, mostly endemic, are crowded into an area slightly larger than Scotland, displaying the richest flower show on earth. Habitats in the Cape range from snow-capped peaks to arid plains, with huge families like Asteraceae (‘daisies’) and Aizoaceae (‘succulents’). Incredibly, the genus Erica has exploded into 625 species, startling in red, yellow, pink and white. Four botanic gardens in distinct habitats were founded last century to represent their own superb and remarkable diversity. The first was Kirstenbosch on the slopes of Table Mountain, perhaps the most beautiful of the world’s botanic gardens. Our trip will visit all four.

Our Speaker Prof. John Parker studied botany at Oxford and, following a Readership at Queen Mary College London and a spell heading the Reading University Botany Department, was Director of CU Botanic Garden from 1996 to 2010. At Cambridge, John was also Curator of the University Herbarium and Professor of Plant Cytogenetics, with research interests in evolutionary genetics. A Fellow of Clare Hall, he established the Genetics Garden in 1998 and oversaw the planning of the Sainsbury Laboratory which was officially opened in 2011. John is a long-standing member of CGT and, indeed, a patron, so we are delighted to welcome him back.

Location Fen Drayton Village Hall, Cootes Lane, Fen Drayton CB24 4SL.

This live talk is open to members of Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust and guests. It will follow the CGT AGM which starts at 11:30am. A buffet lunch will be available after the talk. Attendance at the AGM is free but if you wish to stay for the talk and lunch, there is a charge of £10 for members and guests. So that we know numbers for catering, please email admin by 1 November and either pay £10/head by BACS (Cambridgeshire County Garden Trust; sort code 20-29-68, account number 30347639) using your name as reference, or by cash/cheque on the day.

Zoom Talk: Tim Richardson

Tim Richardson will present the 2021 Margaret Helme Memorial Lecture by Zoom.

Thursday 21 October 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm

This event has now passed but a recording is available to CGT members and paid guests for a period of two weeks. Please contact admin.

Title Cambridge College Gardens.

Abstract For all who have wandered through a Cambridge College garden, a delight rarely possible over the past 18 months, Tim Richardson’s eponymous book will strike a resonance with its appreciation of the history, horticulture and atmosphere that these hallowed gardens provide. In this talk, Tim will bring his research and elegant prose to life to elaborate on the most exquisite gardens in and around the colleges, illustrated with the stunning photography of Clive Boursnell. The gardens are as rich and varied as the colleges themselves, often set within stunning architecture, and include formal quads, naturalistic planting, walled gardens, rooftop oases, productive plots and watermeadows as well as the private spaces enjoyed by senior college members and fellows.

Our Speaker Tim Richardson is a writer who specialises in garden and landscape design and history. He has been gardens editor at Country Life and landscape editor at Wallpaper magazine. He was founding editor of both the award-winning gardens magazines New Eden and Country Life Gardens. Tim contributes regularly to the Daily Telegraph, House and Garden, Gardens Illustrated and Country Life. He is the author of several notable books on gardening and even a claimed first in documenting a history of sweets and their temptations. We are delighted to welcome Tim as the CGT Margaret Helme Lecturer for 2021.

This Zoom talk is free to members of Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust. We warmly welcome guests who may be interested in hearing the talk and invite them to register via Eventbrite at a cost of £5. Joining details will be sent to all CGT members and registered guests two days before the event.

Live Talk: Beverley Glover

Professor Beverley Glover, CGT Patron and Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Thursday 23 September 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm

This event has now passed.

Title The Cambridge Botanic Garden’s unique role in addressing global challenges.

Abstract Cambridge University Botanic Garden was founded with a unique purpose – to support research into the science of plants. In the 21st century that purpose is more important than ever, and I will address how the Garden works to support research into the challenges facing the world today.

Our Speaker Beverley Glover obtained her BSc in Plant and Environmental Biology from the University of St Andrews in 1993, closely followed by a PhD in Plant Development from the John Innes Centre, Norwich, in 1996. Beverley became a Fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge in 1996 and, following spells as Senior Lecturer and Reader, is currently Director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden and Professor of Plant Systematics and Evolution in the University’s Department of Plant Sciences.

Prof. Glover has received several prestigious awards, including the Linnean Society Bicentenary Medal, and consequently sits on a large number of committees, not the least being a Trustee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. We are delighted that she has been able to find time to act as a patron for CGT and warmly welcome her offer to present this lecture.

For further details on this event, including a map of the venue at Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington, and parking information, please follow this link to the Programme page.

Zoom Talk: Mark Newman

Fountains Abbey, and the 18C Studley Royal estate which followed, adapted the River Skel for their own purposes. National Trust lead archeaologist, Mark Newman, recounts key parts of the estate history.

Thursday 8 July 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm
This event has now passed.

Title Wonder of the North: the Aislabie family’s designed landscape at Studley Royal.

Abstract Between 1670 and 1781 three generations of the Aislabie family converted an ancestral country property into one of the greatest designed landscapes created in the British Isles, which is now a World Heritage Site. In this talk Mark Newman, the National Trust’s Archaeological Consultant to the property, will tell the fascinating story of how this was achieved; how the estate was steadily expanded to provide space for each new successive eighteenth century garden fashion, and the unique landscaping genius of father and son, John and William Aislabie.

Our Speaker Mark Newman is the archaeological consultant for the Yorkshire and North East region of the National Trust and has been the NT’s archaeological adviser for Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Estate since 1988. Mark has an intimate knowledge of the estate, having also been a resident of Fountains Hall from 1988 to 1995. In 2015 he published what must be the definitive account to date of the historical evolution of the Studley Royal landscape that is now recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site: The Wonder of the North, available from the Boydell Press.

ZOOM Talk: Alison Moller

Two intriguing images from the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, taken by Alison Moller’s husband Tosh. Zoom in on 20 May to find out what they mean!

Thursday 20 May 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm
This event has now passed but a link to a recording of the talk is available on application to: admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org.uk.

Title The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

Abstract CGT member Alison Moller will explore the background, influences and meaning of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, near Dumfries in southern Scotland. This important 20th/21st century garden was laid out in a 30-acre landscape by Charles Jencks. The garden, inspired by modern cosmology, is private and open to the public for only one day a year, but Alison was given rare access to explore it with her husband who took the photographs that illustrate this talk.

Our Speaker Alison Moller has an MA in Garden and Landscape History from the Institute of Historical Research and is an active researcher and educator. She is a member of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex Gardens Trusts, for whom she has been running an Introduction to Garden History course over the past two years, under the GT umbrella. If that wasn’t enough, Alison is a professional Wine Educator, in which role she arranged the champagne reception at Fenstanton Church Centre in 2016 as part of the CGT Brown Tercentenary celebrations.

ZOOM Talk: Pippa & Steve Temple

Left: Steve and Pippa Temple’s restoration of Impington Mill. Right: the watermill at Euston Hall.

Thursday 29 April 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm
General notes on installing and using Zoom can be found here.
This event has now passed but a link to a recording of the talk is available on application to: admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org.uk.

Title From one great plague to another – the history of the superb Euston Hall garden

Abstract In August 2020, when the pandemic rules were relaxed, CGT members were kindly offered the opportunity of wandering around the glorious garden of Euston Hall in Suffolk.  We were given the place to ourselves for three hours; maps of the grounds were left on a table by the entrance and we were permitted to picnic in the grounds. Out of a beautiful summer came one day of mist, murk and drizzle – the silence was palpable, as it must have been in the days of the Great Plague of 1665, when the Hall was first built and the gardens begun.
Walk in the steps of John Evelyn, William Kent, Capability Brown – and a mystery individual – a man who was to engineer the water features in that showcase of C17 gardens, Versailles.

Our Speakers Steve is an engineer by background, an inventor by profession and the vice-Chairman of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Windmill and Watermill Section – thus explaining his interest in the fascinating watermill at Euston Hall.  Pippa’s primary research was into 1903’s French parliamentary history; she lectured in French, Russian and European History before retiring, and is now free to indulge her passion for garden history. Inevitably the French connection will figure in the talk.

ZOOM Talk: Alan James

Cattle in the Ouse by Michael Monk.

Wedesday 17 March 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm
General notes on installing and using Zoom can be found here.
This event has now passed but a pdf file of selected images and links from Alan’s talk can be downloaded by clicking this link.

Title Climate, environmental and planning challenges to our gardens and parklands

Abstract The Great Ouse Valley, between Earith and Huntingdon, faces challenges from development, as government seeks to build and house a technology hub in the arc encompassing Oxford, Cambridge and London, and from climate change resulting in increasingly frequent summers of drought and winters of flood. Local organisations are responding to these challenges in seeking to protect the valley with AONB status. However, these issues affect the whole of the county. Dr Alan James, chair of the local branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) will introduce CPRE with a little about its history and current activities. He will cover the impact of climate change on the Ouse Valley and across the county and how some planning decisions and policies are adding to these effects. It was that great lady from Wisbech, Octavia Hill, who first coined the term “green belt”. We need to build upon that heritage and ensure that our green spaces, be they formal, informal or crop-growing fields, continue to protect species and to mitigate/reduce climate change. Finally, Alan will highlight CPRE campaigns and activities that seek to alleviate or avoid such impacts.

Our Speaker From a family of London firefighters turned smallholders and farmers, Alan James complemented his material science degree and a PhD in electro-optic ceramics at Sheffield with the RHS General Examination in Horticulture. A career in telecoms research and IT led to Fisons at Hauxton, and thence to two start-up IT companies which continue to flourish. Now based in Haddenham, James joined CPRE after the success of the nearby Mereham public enquiry in 2008. A decade later he became chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough branch to which he brings his particular interests of the impacts of environmental and climate change on the region’s unique landscapes and communities.