Wyken Hall

Heroines of Horticultural talk on Kensington Rooftop Gardens Sunday 16 July 2017


This looks like a terrific event and a great opportunity to visit the beautiful Roof Gardens in Kensington as well: 

An all-female line-up of names from the forefront of the gardening world will discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for women in the industry. Just how tough is it to be a female Head Gardener of some of the country's most iconic gardens?

The talk will be followed by an open discussion and a chance for audience members to ask questions. Tickets cost £10 for members and £15 for non-members with all ticket proceeds going to The Roof Gardens’ nominated charity, Starlight Children’s Foundation*.

Follow this link to buy tickets for this event on Sunday 16 July 2017 from 9 am to 12 noon.

The panel will be chaired by Clare Foggett, Editor of The English Garden magazine, who will be joined by leading female figures including Andrea Brunsendorf, Beatrice Krehl and Pilar Medrano-Dell.

Andrea (below) was the first female Head Gardener appointed at London's Inner Temple Garden, and knows first-hand what it means to break the mould in a male-dominated industry. She trained in horticulture with a traditional German apprenticeship before working at botanic and ornamental gardens across the world including Kirstenbosch (South Africa), Longwood (USA) and Kew Gardens (UK).

Andrea Brusendorf

Beatrice Krehl (below) was former Head Gardener at Waltham Place and is a self-employed gardening consultant. After working closely with iconic ‘Dutch Wave’ gardener Henk Gerritsen, she also has a long trajectory working in iconic gardens in Germany, Holland and the UK. 

Beatrice Krehl

Pilar Medrano-Dell (below) is The Roof Gardens' very own Head Gardener. Pilar joined the team after holding positions at Wrest Park, Moggerhanger Park, and The Barcelona Botanic Garden. Her passion for sustainability and promoting the gardening industry amongst young people has contributed to various award successes for The Roof Gardens since she joined the team in 2015.

Pilar Medrano-Dell

 *Starlight grants once-in-a-lifetime wishes for seriously and terminally ill children.







The gardening women of Chenies Manor

My first visit to Chenies Manor, sandwiched between Amersham in Buckinghamshire and the M25, and renown for its displays of tulips in the spring. In the summer, dahlias take over in the formal beds edged with beautiful old specimens of box and yew.

What I hadn't realised was just how many connections this venerable building and its gardens have with 'gardening women'.  In the late sixteenth century, Lucy, Countess of Bedford, nee Har[r]ington, knew Chenies through her marriage to the third Earl and frequently entertained leading poets of the day such as Ben Johnson at the house. There is even a rumour that A Midsummer's Night's Dream was written for her marriage. The Countess was known as a passionate gardener as well and influenced the layout of the gardens at Chenies.


Lady Anne Clifford also lived in part of the house during the late sixteenth century. Lady Anne later was to have great wealth and gardened on her various estates across Yorkshire and Westmoreland, making a large garden at Brougham Castle.


Since the late 1950s, Elizabeth MacLeod Matthew has devoted herself to recreating the grounds around this magnificent house, including introducing a grass labyrinth, a maze and a Physic Garden. She is quite correct of course that every house of this standing would have had a garden devoted to herbs for use by the apothecary who in many cases, was the wife.

On my way out I popped into the modest little shop selling the usual tea towels, local honey and mugs, and bought some small packets of seeds collected from the garden and carefully packaged in brown paper envelopes. It's lovely to take something away from one garden for your own. So I was delighted to be able to buy some seed of  Eryngium giganteum, or 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' which grows happily in the Victorian vegetable garden at Chenies (see its silvery spikes below).

I've written a great deal about Ellen Willmott in Gardening Women. She was an amazing woman and astounding gardener but perhaps everyone's favourite story about her is that she used to scatter the seeds of E. giganteum surreptitiously as she visited other gardens which is how it got its name. Did she ever visit Chenies Manor? It would be lovely to think that she did.


If this has given you a taste for sixteenth- and seventeenth-century gardens, pop over to my other blog, A Gardening Woman to find out about one of my favourites, Wyken Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk.