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April 2012

Lutyens' Suffolk niece - Lady Margaret Loch

Recently I was asked by someone who lives near me in Suffolk if I had heard of a 'gardening woman' called Margaret Loch- I hadn't but I am intrigued and would love to know more especially about her involvement with camellias and Kew.

Margaret Loch

Here's what I have been told about this very grand lady:

"She was a niece of [Edwin] Lutyens and he laid out the walled garden at Stoke College [Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk] for her. She was also on the board at Kew for a time  and one of her gardeners from Stoke, William Bly, became head gardener at Kew for a while. I worked in the garden for a while ( 3 months) back in 1995 for the school but since I was the only gardener in a garden that used to have 5 or 6 gardeners and anyway spent most of the time cutting grass , I left. The walled garden with several varieties of espalliered fruit trees and vegetable beds was in a poor state and the remains of a knot garden that she designed was on its last legs. The topiary in it was in the shape of mice - her nickname was "Mouse" apparently. Other parts
of the garden had given way to grass and wilderness.

'The College has in its possession a couple of her note books which they let me look at while I was there. She was something of a pioneer I gather and started a collection of trees in the front of the house running down to the river. There was a greenhouse with a large vine growing in it and another smaller one with a huge Camellia in it while I was there. I don't know if they survive. It was sad to have to leave
such a beautiful place..."

We wonder if this Camellia Lady Loch was named after her? Do let me know if you have any more information on her.

Pearl Sulman - an appreciation

Pearl Sulman photo
I was so sorry to hear of the death of Pearl Sulman two weeks ago. 

Pearl was best known for her miniature Pelargoniums which she showed across the country winning an astounding fifty-two RHS Gold Medals including seven awarded at the Chelsea Flower Show and the society’s Anthony Huxley Trophy for their pelargoniums at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2009. During the summer months Pearl and Brian spent all their time travelling across the country exhibiting at Flower Shows including Malvern, Harrogate, Gardeners World Live and of course Chelsea.
Pearl was born into the Woollard family of Mildenhall, Suffolk, and her father Arthur was a well known and respected Nurseryman. Pearl and her husband Brian were later to take on his business.

Speaking to the Cambridge News, Brian Sulman said, 'We were both involved in horticulture all our working lives and even previous to that because Pearl was born and brought up on her father’s nursery, so we both have had a constant love of gardening and horticulture.'

'I think it was the love of beautiful flowers and the fact that when you sow seeds or take cuttings, you never know whether they are going to grow or not, and the joy you get when they do get to flower.'

At their peak, the couple, from Mildenhall, did about 30 shows a year. They did their last in 2010 before selling the last of their stock last July.

Mr Sulman said his wife was special and had been well-known in Mildenhall. The support from across the community had been fantastic, he said.

Cards and telephone calls have also been pouring in from fellow flower show exhibitors.

He added: “I think she had many, many friends.”