Gardens Illustrated Festival 2017

Gardens Illustrated Festival 2017

MyGardenSchool was delighted to be invited by our tutors Noel Kingsbury and Annie Guilfoyle to come to The Gardens Illustrated to Festival, to meet the new editor, Lucy Bellamy and listen to more gardening experts from all over the world. And importantly for MyGardenSchool and Gardens Illustrated to discuss working more closely together (more on this soon).

MyGardenSchool tutors Noel Kingsbury and Annie Guilfolye have recently announced offline gardening courses (Gardens Illustrated Garden Masterclasses) in set locations around the UK. A great opportunity to meet our experts in person, and get some hands on experience. It was also good to think about our collaboration further with the offline world and our expert tutors. We’re also working hard behind the scenes on our latest new courses about Annie’s new course on small & urban gardens coming soon.

Troy Scott Smith and Vita Sackville West

What a great event! A highlight was attending a talk by Troy Scott Smith. During the insightful narrative by @troyatsiss on Vita Sackville West’s roses #GIGardensFest2017 we 💕 the insights into the spirit of Vita & her rose varieties. Remarkably the gardening team at Sissinghurst are undertaking finding 300 of the original rose varieties and re-planting them to see what they were like. Personally, I would love to see Sissinghurst shift into channelling the spirit and personality of Vita, but using some of the more contemporary varieties (less prone to disease). But I think this is a fascinating exercise nevertheless, and it will be interesting for visitors to see what it would have been like during in her time.


One of the criticisms of Sissinghurst, which has much to do with the sheer numbers of visitors, is that, over the years, it has lost some of Vita’s “amateur”, artistic spirit and is just that bit too tidy. “You want to be moved when you go to any garden – to have a feeling, as well as see the horticulture and pick up ideas,” Troy says. “We ought not to be giving people what they want, but to be absolutely sure ourselves about what Sissinghurst is and to provide that.”

One of the points about Vita Sackville West which really came across was that whilst the structure of the garden led by her husband, Harold was very precise, she preferred to leave some romance, movement and freedom for the plants, especially the roses, to cover the design using their own forms. She wasn’t too restrictive in pruning and placing.

About Garden Masterclass

Garden Masterclass aims to bring together gardeners and designers some of the top talent in gardening world through one day workshops in the UK. Each workshop is organised around a specific topic, and designed to help participants learn, create and apply new knowledge and skills. If you can’t attend in person, many of the experts at the garden masterclasses also teach online here at MyGardenSchool.

MyGardenSchool's Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsbury

Garden Masterclasses in collaboration with Gardens Illustrated magazine.

In South-east England:

  • August 1 - Parham House and Gardens, West Sussex
  • October 9 - Bury Court, Hampshire
  • October 18 - Bury Court, Hampshire

In the Cotswolds, Wales and the West:

  • April 6 - The Coach House Garden, Gloucestershire.
  • May 3 - Yeo Valley Organic Gardens, Somerset.
  • June 21 - Walled Garden Treberfydd, Powys.
  • July 26 - Yeo Valley Organic Gardens, Somerset.

In eastern England:

  • May 9 - Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire.
  • June 13 - Darsham Nurseries, Suffolk
  • August 15 - Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire.
  • October 11 - Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire.

In Scotland and northern England:

  • September 20 - The Restoration Yard, Dalkeith, near Edinburgh
  • October 12 - Scampston Walled Garden, North Yorkshire

The Midlands, the North-West, Ireland and London

Keep fingers crossed for next year!

Find our more about Gardens Illustrated's Masterclasses.