ZOOM Talk: Twigs Way

Left: print of the south side view of the Ruins at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,
with the Temple of Aeolus in the background by Woollett and Kirby, c1763.

Tuesday 23 February 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm
General notes on installing and using Zoom can be found here.
This event has now passed.

Title Ruins in the Landscape

Abstract From hermitages to ruined abbeys, headless statues to wellheads, we scatter ruins through our gardens and designed landscapes. The Romans were the first to incorporate ruins in gardens and now we create gardens around Roman ruins. But what is the fascination with incorporating the old in the new? Why should ancient cultures rise again amongst the flowerbeds and verdant green lawns? This illustrated talk will consider the history and role of ruins in garden design.

Our Speaker Dr Twigs Way, previous Chair of CGT, has worked in historic landscapes for over twenty years, from medieval parks to gardens and landscapes of all periods. At present she blends lecturing, research, writing, publishing, crafting landscape management plans, visiting historic sites, and the history of female gardeners. She relaxes by weeding her own garden, sometimes with a mattock…

ZOOM Event: Gardeners’ Question Time

Thursday 14 January 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm
An informal evening to pick the gardening brains of our new Life Members
Please send your queries in advance to admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org.uk
This event has now passed but you can download the list of species
suggested by Philip and Richard from here

Title Gardeners’ Question Time

Summary Philip Whaites (left) and Richard Gant (right) have kindly offered to share the benefits of their experience as Head Gardeners at two of our most important Brown landscapes at Wimpole Hall and Madingley Hall respectively. Do you have a question that you would like to put to them? It doesn’t matter whether you want to know the best planting scheme for ornamental urns, or how to deal with thugs in your backyard – this is your chance to challenge the experts! Please send your query by email, prior to the event, to admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org.uk You will be invited by our compere and chair, Liz Whittle, to put your question to our illustrious panel on the evening.

Our Panellists Having started out as a motor engineer, Philip Whaites began his gardening career in 1972, attending Lancashire College of Agriculture while working in a local parks department. He joined the National Trust as Gardener in Charge at Gawthorpe Hall and restored part of the gardens, designed by Sir Charles Barry. Philip joined Wimpole Hall as Assistant Gardener in August 1981 and became Head Gardener in 1987. Since then Philip has recreated many of Wimpole’s features, enabled by successful funding applications and many volunteers. Now retired, Philip is a volunteer gardener at The Susan Countess of Hardwick Almshouses and a Trustee of Ramsey Walled Garden. He is also collection coordinator for Cambridgeshire at Plant Heritage.

Richard Gant joined the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education at Madingley Hall in 1988 and, as a formidable plantsman and all round horticulturalist, he has overseen many changes and developments to the garden since then. The glory and beauty of the garden is testament to his hard work and dedication over the years, which have seen Madingley Hall host a number of CGT events, including the 2020 social evening in September. Both Richard’s and Philip’s contributions to their landscapes and their support for CGT over the years were recognised through the award of CGT Life Membership to each of them.

Further biographical details on our panellists can be found in the November 2020 newsletter on pp3-4.

Zoom Lecture Season 2020

Following quiet months enforced by lockdown, CGT is delighted to offer members and guests an opportunity to hear a series of excellent talks covering an eclectic mix of topics. These will be streamed live on-line using Zoom and details explaining how to install and operate Zoom can be found by clicking this link. An invitation mail will be sent out enabling you to participate from the comfort and bio-security of your own home. A brief calendar of talks follows below with links (where active) to further information on each lecture. We hope you will join us for these lectures, for which there is no charge, and that you will find them stimulating and enjoyable.

Date and timeSpeakerTitle
16 September 2020
7:30pm – 8:30pm
Past event
Sue Stuart-SmithGardening for the mind
15 October 2020
Margaret Helme
Inaugural Lecture
Past event
Tom WilliamsonNew light on Repton: unlocking a system of landscape design
7 November 2020
(in AGM programme)
Past event
David MarshGarden history in the making? The story of my garden.
10 December 2020
Christmas Lecture
Past event
Gillian HovellHow Roman garden design changed gardens forever and provided the seeds for our modern garden design

ZOOM Talk: Sue Stuart-Smith

Wednesday 16 September 2020 7:30pm-8:30pm
This event has now passed. Please contact admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org for access to the YouTube recording, available for two weeks from broadcast.

Title Gardening for the Mind

Abstract Combining contemporary neuroscience, psychoanalysis and compelling real-life stories, Sue Stuart-Smith will explain the remarkable effects that nature can have on our health and wellbeing and how vital gardening can be, both as an escape for the brain and to help our minds through movement as well as thought.

Our Speaker Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of The Well Gardened Mind, a Sunday Times bestseller. She studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge before qualifying as a doctor and working in the National Health Service for many years, becoming the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. She currently teaches at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London and is a consultant at DocHealth, a not for profit, psychotherapeutic consultation service for doctors. She is married to Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer, and, over thirty years together, they have created the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertfordshire.

ZOOM Talk: Tom Williamson

Thursday 15 October 2020 7:30pm-8:30pm
The inaugural Margaret Helme Memorial Lecture
This event has now passed. Please contact admin@cambridgeshiregardenstrust.org for access to the YouTube recording, available for two weeks from broadcast.

Title New light on Repton: unlocking a system of landscape design

Abstract Humphry Repton is often characterized as a rather practical designer of gardens and parks, rather than as someone who thought in abstract terms about landscapes, or who developed any very rigorous and systematic approach to their creation or modification. But his overall approach to landscape was rooted in theory. His stated ambition was to ‘establish fixed principles in the art of laying out ground’. This lecture will explore those principles; how they operated in practice; and what they tell us about Repton and his world.

Our Speaker Tom Williamson is Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia and has written extensively on landscape archaeology, environmental history, and the history of landscape design. His books on garden history include: Polite Landscapes: Gardens and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (1995); The Archaeology of the Landscape Park (1998); and Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men (2016). His latest book, Humphry Repton: Landscape Design in an Age of Revolution, will be published by Reaktion Books in October 2020.

Zoom Talk: David Marsh

Saturday 7 November 2020 12:00noon-1:00pm
Follows the AGM, starting at 11:30am
Event now closed

Title Garden history in the making? The story of my garden.

Abstract My partner and I have had a house in France for around 25 years, and for the last 10 have lived there for about half the year. We moved house in 2006, buying a rambling ruin with mediaeval foundations, two overgrown fields and a lake.

Since then we have been designing, clearing and planting a garden of about five acres. Almost everything, apart from the hedging and some of the trees, is home grown from seed or cuttings, and this is the story of how it was done… and how our French friends, neighbours and the local press reacted! The garden was opened to the public for the first time in 2015.

Our Speaker After a career in teaching and ending up as a head teacher in inner London, Dr David Marsh took early retirement to go back into full-time education on his own account. He took a four-year diploma course in Garden History that led to an MA in Historical Research at Birkbeck College, University of London in 1999 and went straight on to do a PhD on The Gardens and Gardeners of Later Stuart London. David taught at Birkbeck in the Faculty of Continuing Education, on the history of London, and archival research. He now works with a small group of colleagues organizing and teaching courses about garden history at City Lit in central London and independently at the Institute of Historical Research.

David is a trustee of The Gardens Trust, co-chairs their education and events committee and writes a weekly blog for them which you can find at thegardenstrust.blog.


Zoom Talk: Gillian Hovell

Thursday 10 December 2020 11:00am-12:00noon
CGT Christmas Lecture
Event now closed

Title How Roman garden design changed gardens forever and provided the seeds for our modern garden design

Abstract This engaging talk invites us to view our own modern gardens with fresh eyes. As we explore the Romans’ innovative attitudes to plants and landscapes, we discover how they created a new concept: town and country gardens! The surprising tales behind the plants they grew – as well as the how and why – add colour and life to plants we still grow today. Indeed, what the Romans used as herbal medicines, ceremonial and religious decoration, and what they enjoyed as tasty treats might be a little startling. Add to the blossoming mix, vistas, garden features and sculptural highlights and you have the beginnings of our stately home gardens. But, 2,000 years ago, they were all carefully selected for very special reasons; their private and public green spaces were fruitful in meaning and messages.  Decipher them with Gillian Hovell, the ‘Muddy Archaeologist’, and your own garden – its plants and features – will never look the same again.

Our Speaker After graduating in Latin and Ancient History from Exeter University, Gillian Hovell worked in BBC Television and went on to become an award-winning freelance writer and archaeologist, excavating local and international archaeological sites (including Roman Pompeian Oplontis and Neolithic Ness of Brodgar on Orkney). Gillian’s passion is to add colour and depth to our lives today by sharing the astonishing  ancient world in person, in publications, in the field and on line. She lectures on the ancient world and its archaeology nationally and internationally, as well as lecturing for York University and the British Museum. She has lectured on tours from Neolithic Orkney to the Eastern Mediterranean and covered all the civilisations of the Ancient Mediterranean. Her newly founded ‘Muddy Archaeologist Online Courses’ provide and share a friendly and vividly accessible sense of time and place.

Social Evening at Madingley Hall

The sun-drenched terrace at Madingley Hall

You are warmly invited to join the Council of Management from 6:30pm on Thursday 3 September 2020 for an informal light buffet, on the beautiful terrace at Madingley Hall CB23 8AQ, to celebrate the contributions made to CGT by founder members

Richard Gant and Philip Whaites.

The gardens will be open before and after the buffet until dusk. The cost to members and guests is £10.00 but places are limited owing to CV-19 security and must be reserved by 26 August. In the event of rain, the event will be held in the elegant and airy Hickson Room. Members are advised to bring facemasks to comply with etiquette if the event takes place indoors. Social distancing will also be observed in the gardens and on the terrace, and hand sanitisers will be provided. See Programme for booking details.

Event Now Closed

Euston Hall Visit Confirmed

Image of Euston Hall gardens courtesy of Euston Hall website.


We’re delighted to confirm that bookings are available for a self-guided visit to Euston Hall, Thetford, Suffolk IP24 2QH on Tuesday 25 August. The Palladian house and tearoom are closed but picnics are welcome in the landscaped gardens, ancient broadleaf woodland and pleasure grounds, laid out by John Evelyn and extended by William Kent and ‘Capability’ Brown. Meet (with social distancing) at any time between 11:00am and 2:00pm for a self-guided tour of the grounds. Members and guests £8; proceeds to benefit local charities. Booking deadline: Monday 17 August. Please click on the Programme page for details on how to make a booking. We hope to see you there!

Study Day 2020

The new garden at Schlumberger Cambridge, with the Michael Hopkins building behind.

Saturday 7 March 2020, at Hemingford Abbots Village Hall, 10:00am-4:00pm (Event now closed)

How Green Was My City

Our theme, paraphrasing Richard Llewellyn, examines the role, effectiveness and sustainability of green ‘lungs’ in an urban context. We are sure you will enjoy lively discussion with our eminent speakers and relax over a hearty lunch with speakers, members and guests. Full details may be downloaded by clicking here.


Dr Twigs Way

Dr David Brown
Prof Nigel Dunnett

Prof Sir Roderick Floud

Dr Simon Bittleston and
Bridget Flanagan

Who that has reason, and his smell;
Would not among roses and jasmine dwell?
Making place: Vision Park and elsewhere
Going beyond the garden: low-input,
high-impact urban landscapes
Palaces, parks, cemeteries and villas:
the cost of urban gardens
Case study: a new garden for Schlumberger

Members £25, Non-members £30, to include coffee and 2-course lunch

To register, please send a cheque payable to Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust to: Alan Brown, Foxhollow, 239 High Street, Offord Cluny, St. Neots PE19 5RT. Tel.: 01480 811947. E-mail: fox.239@btinternet.com. Or pay by BACS to Cambs. Gardens Trust,
sort code 20-29-68, a/c 30347639, quoting your name as reference, and email or telephone Alan to say you have paid by BACS.