Tuesday 31 July 2012

The end of an era

An apparently self-sown (!) lily, derived from crosses made by the late Sir Peter Smithers.

After precisely nine and a half years, today has been my last working day at Colesbourne Park. Inevitably, such an occasion involves a degree of sadness, having been so intimately associated with the place for so long and having built up the gardens and their reputation to their current standing. On the other hand, one can look back with pride and happiness at what has been achieved in that time, and at the enjoyment and fun involved in working in such a beautiful place - of which these are a few recent pictures.

Back in 2002 I took the step of asking Henry and Carolyn Elwes if they'd like me to come to Colesbourne to manage and develop the garden for them. They agreed, and the rest is history. I have to thank Henry and Carolyn for trusting me to do something with their garden, and for the excellent working relationship and friendship we have had during this time. Running a big garden as a part-timer with many other things to do is not particularly easy, and is indeed only possible with solid assistance. In this I have been fortunate to first have the assistance of John Thorn, who in his first year notoriously planted 55,000 bulbs almost single-handedly, and then Will Fletcher, who has been my righthand man for the past seven years. I thank them both for their support and hard work, which has made it all possible.

I am delighted to be able to announce that my successor will be Chris Horsfall, currently Head Gardener at Ulting Wick in Essex, who will bring a lot of practical and professional qualities to Colesbourne. He will take up his post in September and unlike me, will work full-time, so I look forward to seeing the garden flourish under his care. He just has to learn a lot about snowdrops in a hurry...

Aconitum elwesii, named for Henry John Elwes: it self-sows rather freely here.

The herbaceous border, replanted in early June. Geranium 'Rozanne' and Kniphofia 'Molten Lava' are conspicuous.

The bog garden, rather invaded by Sambucus adnata...

The lake-side walk.

Colesbourne Park from the bridge over the River Churn.

Chris Horsfall and Will Fletcher will take the gardens into the future.

A plaque from the National Gardens Scheme commemorating the opening for the NGS of Colesbourne Park in 1927 and 2012.


  1. One can understand the sadness John, but what an achievement to look back on too. I hope the move to Yorkshire goes without hitch and you have found somewhere nice to live up there...you will of course be taking some snowdrops?

  2. What a lovely reflection and such a wonderful place Colesbourne has become. I regret not seeing it during your tenure there. Congrats on your future endeavors and all the best in your move!

    Too many books!!! LOL



Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.