Past Events

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The diverse heritage of Medway's parks and gardens – 12th October 2016 at 18:00

Location: Lenham Community Centre, Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2QT

Cost: £16.00 (including wine and refreshments before the talk)

Medway has a fascinating history, fully reflected in the wide range of parks and gardens in the area. A Tudor garden has been discovered in Rochester which is now gradually being transformed into a Renaissance-style water garden. Chatham boasts fine examples of early eighteenth-century, formal town gardens, with design features still surviving today. Many sites are of high military importance given the association with Chatham Dockyard. The 19th and 20th centuries are also well-represented: in Rochester there is a significant Arts and Crafts garden; at the historic Rochester Cathedral gardens there are associations with Gertrude Jekyll; and a very good example of an early Edwardian municipal park can be found at Gillingham.

In 2013, Medway Council, keen to record its heritage, commissioned Kent Gardens Trust to research the history and significance of many of these gardens. Paul Howarth, one of the volunteer researchers, will give a fully-illustrated talk about this major project and the parks and gardens involved. Paul will also consider some questions about the work of county gardens trusts which arise from the project.

Restoration House, Rochester




Another day at the seaside - a tour of Broadstairs – 3rd August 2016 at 10:30

Location: Morelli's Ice Cream Parlour, 14 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs, CT10 1QS

Cost: £35.00 (including morning coffee, guided tour, lunch and museum visit)

Following the success of our visits to Ramsgate and Margate, we return again to the east-Kent coast with a guided tour of old Broadstairs. A popular holiday destination during the 19th century (Charles Dickens visited frequently) it still retains its old-world charm of hidden cobbled squares, fishermen’s cottages and vintage ice-cream parlours. Once more, we will be in the expert hands of Nick Dermott, heritage adviser to Thanet District Council. After lunch, we will visit the Dickens House Museum, once the home of Mary Pearson Strong, whom Dickens characterised as the fictitious Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield. There has been a dwelling on the site since Tudor times, and the current museum houses many artefacts of the great Victorian author. We will end the day with a private visit to Seven Stones House designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens with a beautiful garden designed by Percy Cane.




Illustrated Spring talk by Michael Symes – 21st May 2016 at 14:30

Location: The Garden Room, Riverhill House, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RR

Cost: £15.00 (includes tea and cakes)

To help mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown, this year's Spring talk will be given by the well-known garden historian and author, Michael Symes. Michael is an authority on eighteenth-century landscape gardens and his talk 'The English Landscape Garden: Brown and Alternative Contemporary Visions' will set the scene for further events later in the year organised by the Trust (see 'A day at Chilham Castle' on 21st August). Michael's talk will provide the context for Brown's achievements and examine the role of other landscape architects working at the time.

The event will coincide with the publication of the Trust’s new, fully-illustrated book 'Capability Brown in Kent', which explores Brown’s landscaping and architecture at five Kent estates. The book will be available for purchase at the event - £9.50 (£8.00 for Kent Gardens Trust members).

The engraving of Hill Park (Valence): Courtesy of British Library

Engraving of Hill Park (Valence)




Gravetye Manor Gardens – 28th April 2016 at 14:00

Location: Gravetye Manor, Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, Sussex RH19 4LJ

Cost: £40.00 (including guided tour and full afternoon tea)

The gardens at Gravetye Manor are particularly special and considered to be amongst the most influential in English gardening history. In 1884, the manor became the home of the botanist and revolutionary gardener, William Robinson, whose ideas about naturalised plantings, bringing nature into the garden that we often take for granted today, were seen as ground-breaking. His most influential books include The English Flower Garden and The Wild Garden. We will be given a guided tour of the garden where the focus by the head gardener Tim Coward, has been not only to conserve and re-create Robinson’s ideas, but also to create new ideas in homage to Robinson’s experimental style. After tea, we can explore the garden at our leisure.




The influence of early C20 artists and architects on garden – 6th November 2015 at 18:30

Location: Lenham Community Centre, Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2QT

Cost: £25.00 (including canapes and wine before the talk)

Marian Boswall is a landscape architect specialising in historic garden restoration. She is gardens adviser to a number of historic houses and trusts and a visiting lecturer at Greenwich University. One current project is the Charleston Centenary Project: developing the access, facilities and resources for this important museum and centre of literary learning, whilst conserving the landscape.




A visit to Nettlestead Place Gardens – 1st September 2015 at 12:30

Location: Venue (1): The Swan on the Green, West Peckham ME18 5JW \r\nVenue (2): Nettlestead Place Nr. Wateringbury ME18 5HA

Cost: £30.00 (including lunch)

We start with lunch at The Swan on the Green, West Peckham, a highly regarded pub in the middle of West Peckham. After lunch we drive 6 miles to Nettlestead. \r\nNettlestead Place is a mediaeval house on the site of an ancient manor mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is set on the west bank of the Medway valley and the gardens run to 10 acres. \r\n \r\nThe inner part of the gardens including the large stone lined pool and the rose gardens were laid out in 1921. After extensive damage in 1987 the gardens have been extensively enlarged and developed with many interesting plants. \r\n \r\nThe head gardener Anthony Bradshaw will be talking about the development of the gardens over the past 25 years and his plans for the future.




A day at the seaside - a tour of old Margate – 6th August 2015 at 10:30

Location: Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate CT9 1HG

Cost: £25.00 (including morning coffee, lunch, tour of Margate and guided tour of Turner Contemporary Gallery)

Last year Nick Dermott, Heritage Advisor to Thanet Council, was ill and we had to cancel this event. We are delighted that Nick, who has unrivalled knowledge of Margate and its history, has now recovered and has very kindly agreed to revive the tour. Margate was the first fashionable seaside resort from early in the C18 when visitors came by boat from London. There are no less than 70 listed buildings in the town including one of the earliest theatres in the country and it has many literary and artistic connections. Turner lodged and painted there but it is less well known that the painter Walter Sickert lived and taught in Margate and T.S. Eliot wrote The Wasteland sitting on the pier. We will meet for coffee at the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery and after our guided tour of Margate and lunch at BeBeached Cafe we will visit the Gallery where there will be an exhibition of work by Grayson Perry.

Hawley Square, Margate

Winter Gardens, Margate




A visit to Restoration House and the gardens – 10th July 2015 at 11:00

Location: Restoration House, Crow Lane, Rochester, ME 1 1RF

Cost: £20.00 (to include a guided tour of the house, guide book and light lunch)

In 1994, Robert Tucker and Jonathan Wilmot purchased the grade I listed Restoration House and began the enormous undertaking of restoring this nationally important mansion and its much neglected, centuries old, walled and terraced garden. The results of their efforts are a joy for all to see. Red brick walls surround and divide the garden into distinct areas, each one reflecting various stages of its 500 year old history. Yew topiary, deep herbaceous borders, a lily pond and wonderful box parterres, replicating the patterns of the Jacobean doors of the house, provide visual focal points. In 2009, historic boundaries of the garden were returned to Restoration House, allowing Robert and Jonathan to embark, once more, on major restoration work - this time to the Tudor garden. Eventually this part of the garden will become a Renaissance, Mannerist-style water garden and an orchard. Robert has very kindly agreed to give us a guided tour of the house, to be followed by a simple lunch. In the afternoon, members may tour the garden at their leisure. Please note that there are some steep steps.

Parterre Garden at Restoration House




Two gardens in Lamberhurst – 25th June 2015 at 10:00

Location: (1) Court Lodge, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8DG <br /> (2) The Priory, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8DS

Cost: £30.00 (to include lunch and tea)

Court Lodge Lamberhurst is our first garden. It has been owned by the Morland family since 1733. In the C19 the garden was at the peak of its development and remarkably its appearance has been recorded in a series of painted plates which can be seen in the house. The present owners, Heather and Ian Dyke, are planning to restore the gardens to their earlier splendour including the walled kitchen garden, water gardens and a rock garden designed by James Pulham &amp; Son. <br /> <br /> We will have lunch at Court Lodge before visiting The Priory which is only a short distance away. <br /> When Mr. and Mrs. McAlpine bought the Priory, in 1956, the garden was very overgrown with mostly rhododendrons, big yews and other dark trees. After 4 years of major pruning and removal of many evergreens to let in the light they employed the eminent designer Percy Cane to help in drawing up a new plan. He designed a large rose garden and, being a knowledgeable tree expert, planted some interesting deciduous trees. <br /> <br /> The 1987 storm hit the garden badly and some 60 trees and shrubs were lost. Anthony du Gard Pasley, another influential designer helped the McAlpines to plant two grey borders and create a spring garden in an area destroyed by the storm and generally helped get the garden on its feet again

Court Lodge East Lawn

The Priory paved garden




A visit to the Chelsea Physic Garden – 12th May 2015 at 11:00

Location: The Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS<br />

Cost: £26.00 (to include coffee on arrival and lunch)

The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries making it the second oldest botanic garden in the UK. The original purpose was to demonstrate medicinal plants and it still provides plants to various institutions for instruction and research. Philip Miller, the author of the Gardeners Dictionary was appointed curator in 1722 and it became the most richly stocked botanic garden in the world. The rock garden (1780)is the oldest in England.<br /> <br /> Lunch will be provided after a conducted tour of the garden. <br />




Walled Kitchen Gardens - a talk by Susan Campbell – 25th April 2015 at 14:30

Location: The Garden Room, Riverhill House, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RR

Cost: £15.00 (to include tea and cakes)

Susan Campbell is a foremost authority on walled kitchen gardens, and we are most privileged that she has agreed to deliver our second Annual Spring Lecture. Susan has been researching, lecturing and writing about the subject over the last twenty years, and her books include The Walled Kitchen Garden, A History of Kitchen Gardening and Cottesbrook. For this lecture, Susan will be concentrating on the history of walled kitchen gardens, and how new ideas and innovations in kitchen gardening came about through social and economic change. Tea and cakes will be served in the Garden Room following the lecture, and there will be an opportunity to visit the garden at Riverhill House afterwards.




The New English Garden – 13th November 2014 at 19:00

Location: Lenham Community Centre, Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2QT

Cost: £20.00 (including wine and light refreshments)

Tim Richardson will be well known to many. He writes on gardens and garden history for the Daily Telegraph, Gardens Illustrated, House and Garden and Country Life. He has written several books on gardens including Great Gardens of America, English Gardens of the Twentieth Century, Arcadian Friends: the Makers of the English Landscape Garden and his latest book The New English Garden on which his talk will be based. Tim is the mastermind behind the Chelsea Fringe the alternative garden festival which overlaps the Chelsea Flower Show and involves numerous garden related events around London. Tim is an incisive and insightful critic of gardens and his talk will be thought provoking and stimulating.




Two Contrasting Sussex Gardens – 4th October 2014 at 10:30

Location: Venue (1): Sussex Prairie Garden,Morlands Farm, Wheatsheaf Road, Henfield, Sussex BN5 9AT <br /> Venue (2): Clinton Lodge, Fletching, Uckfield, Sussex TN22 3ST

Cost: £40.00 (including morning coffee, lunch and tea)

At Sussex Prairie Garden Paul and Pauline McBride have created an amazing six acre garden which the two of them manage with only intermittent outside help. The site was initially a flat field surrounded by mature oak trees but the swirling masses of largely perennial plants create exciting vistas of colour and form in a very modern style. There are many grasses which should be at their best at the time of our visit. <br /> <br /> After lunch in a local pub we will visit Clinton Lodge Gardens which is very different in style. The six acre garden here is divided into several smaller gardens of different character (a small potager, an Elizabethan knot garden, a pre-Raphaelite allee and so on). The planting is formal and romantic with good views out of the garden. We are hoping to have a short talk from Lady Collum, the owner, and you will then be able to wander round at your own pace. Tea in the lemonry will end the visit.




Another day at the seaside a tour of old Margate – 6th August 2014 at 10:30

Location: Turner Contemporary, Margate CT9 1HG

Cost: £25.00 (including morning coffee, lunch and tour of Turner Contemporary Gallery)

Nick Dermott, Heritage Adviser to Thanet Council, has very kindly agreed to conduct us on a tour of Margate after the very successful visit to Ramsgate last year. Margate was the first fashionable seaside resort from early in the C18 when visitors came by boat from London. Margate has no less than 70 listed buildings including one of the earliest theatres in the country and many literary and artistic connections. Turner lodged and painted there but it is less well known that the painter Walter Sickert lived and taught in Margate and T.S. Eliot wrote The Wasteland sitting on the pier. We are privileged have as our guide Nick Dermott, who has unrivalled knowledge of the town and its history. We will meet at the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery and after lunch there will be a tour of the Gallery.




Artistry in the Garden – 17th July 2014 at 14:30

Location: Church Farm, Warehorne, Kent TN26 2LP

Cost: £15.00 (to include tea)

Elizabeth Doyle and her husband, the artist John Doyle, have created a sensational garden around their old farmhouse in east Kent where brilliant colours chosen with an artists eye combine with meticulous design and planting to create a breathtaking effect. The garden is not open to the public so we are most privileged to be allowed to see it, when it should be at its peak.




A day with Chelsea winner Roger Platts – 27th June 2014 at 10:30

Location: Leydens, Hartfield Road, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 5NH

Cost: £45.00 (including lunch)

Plantsman and garden designer Roger Platts has won no less than 7 Gold Medals at Chelsea being awarded the prize for Best Show Garden in 2002 and Peoples Choice in 2010. His designs combine a naturalistic style and generous planting with traditional features to create the classic English garden. His own remarkable garden at Leydens showcases his talents and ideas. Roger has kindly agreed to talk about Garden Design in general and his experiences of designing gardens for Chelsea. We will have lunch in a local pub.




A designers garden – 7th June 2014 at 14:30

Location: Calico House, Newnham, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 0LN

Cost: £15.00 (including tea)

Graham Lloyd-Brunt and Ewan Brown moved to Calico House in 2006. Graham is a garden designer and wished to create a garden to complement the house which was built between 1400 1600. Topiary yew hedges and three terraced lawns which date from the 1920s have been retained but each level has been developed to acquire a distinct character. A summer rose border is next to the house and on the middle lawn Arts and Crafts style borders in cool hues run from the kitchen door to a distant fountain. A cloister of stilted hornbeams provides a breathing space on the top lawn. This will be a wonderful opportunity to see a newly designed garden created within an old setting.




The London Square - a talk by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan – 5th April 2014 at 14:30

Location: Riverhill House, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RR

Cost: £12.00 (including tea)

Well known landscape architect and garden historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan will give an illustrative talk on the history of the London Square (the subject of his recent book which was reviewed in the last newsletter). A highly engaging speaker, Todd will describe the Square\'s early beginnings in the C17 and the ways in which important changes to architectural and planting designs were made, and affected by, social and economic change over the centuries. The talk will be followed by tea and members will be able to visit the recently restored Himalayan gardens at Riverhill, the result of the Rogers family passion for plant collecting since 1840




A visit to the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road – 5th March 2014 at 11:30

Location: The Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

Cost: £20.00 (to include lunch)

The Garden Museum was set up in 1977 to rescue the church of St. Marys where the great gardener and plant hunter John Tradescant and his son are buried. The museum contains a collection of gardening paintings, tools and artefacts and is dedicated to celebrating the British love of gardens. A charming C17 style knot garden is planted with species introduced by the Tradescants. Christopher Woodward, the director, will greet us and after a conducted tour of the Museum there will be an opportunity to see the current exhibition, Fashion and Gardens which explores the relationship between fashion and garden design. Lunch will be in the delectable Garden Cafe.




A polite landscape out of a treeless plain – 13th November 2013 at 19:00

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Location: Lenham Community Centre, Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2QT

Cost: £18.00 (Includes wine and light refreshments)

Robert Peel is vice-chairman of the Garden History Society and organises tours for the Society. He studied garden history at the Architectural Association and has co-authored a book on the plant collections of the Marquess of Bute. Robert lives for part of the year in Argentina. His talk, which is based on one he gave recently at the Lindley Library, will cover how he has created a garden in the Argentine Pampa and the historical context of gardening there.




Tree identification day at Doddington Place – 2nd November 2013 at 10:30

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Location: Doddington Place, near Sittingbourne ME9 0BB

Cost: £25.00 (Includes coffee on arrival, lunch and tea)

Jane Cordingley, KGT trustee and head gardener at Eltham Palace, conducted a tree identification day recently for our research group which was such a success that we are repeating it for the benefit of KGT members. Jane is a very expert plantswoman with a deep understanding and love of trees. She will provide guidance and instruction on how to identify many of the more common native trees which can be seen in the beautiful park at Doddington and also some more unusual trees in the historic garden. There will be a tour round the garden in the afternoon. The day will end with a light-hearted test of what we have learnt.

Doddington Place




Modern planting in an old setting – 29th September 2013 at 14:30

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Location: Heronden, Smallhythe Road, Tenterden TN30 7LN. Directions: From Tenterden take the Smallhythe road (B2082). In less than 1/2 mile you will see a Tesco store on the left. Continue on Smallhythe Road and take the next turning on the right (about 200 yards) which is a private road to Heronden. A KGT sign will be put at the road entrance. Any problems on the day please telephone Elizabeth Cairns: 07860 177101.

Cost: £15.00 (Including tea)

Peter and Vicky Costain have transformed the C19 walled garden at Heronden near Tenterden with a sensational contemporary planting scheme of grasses and perennials which should not be missed. The house is set in fine parkland with some handsome mature trees and a ha ha. The lawns are bordered with some interesting shrubs. We will have tea in the garden.




A day at the seaside - a tour of old Ramsgate – 1st August 2013 at 10:30

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Location: Royal Harbour Brasserie, East Pier, Royal Harbour, Ramsgate CT11

Cost: £25.00 (Includes morning coffee and lunch)

Ramsgate was a highly fashionable seaside resort in the late 18th and 19th centuries and contains many charming squares and gardens. We are privileged to have as our guide Nick Dermott, Heritage Adviser to Thanet Council who has unrivaled knowledge of the town and its history and literary and artistic connections. Our visit will include Madeira Walk with its remarkable Pulhamite rockwork and the delightful Vale Square, Albion Gardens and Liverpool Lawn named after the 19th century Prime Minister.




A visit to the gardens at Chevening – 25th June 2013 at 14:00

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Location: North Gate, Chevening, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 7LD

Cost: £30.00 (Including tea)

Chevening has one of the great gardens of Kent, registered Grade I on the English Heritage register of parks and gardens. Originally laid out in the early 18th century for the Earl of Stanhope much of the early design, shown in an engraving by Kip published in 1719, still survives. The garden contains some magnificent trees including mature cedars and limes. Elizabeth Banks prepared a study and management plan of the garden and the trustees continue a sensitive programme of development and restoration. The afternoon will end with tea in the Brew House.

Chevening House




Restoring the Salutation – 21st July 2012 at 14:30

Location: The Salutation, Nightrider Street, Sandwich CT13 9EW

Cost: £16.00 (to include entrance, guided tour and tea)

When the present owners, Mr and Mrs Parker bought the Salutation, the garden designed by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll was sadly degraded. Since then it has been beautifully restored and replanted. Steve Edney, former head gardener, will take us round the garden and tell us how this has been achieved and how it has been possible to retain the Edwardian atmosphere while accommodating around 30,000 visitors each year. We will have tea in the Tea Room.

Meadow at The Salutation




Elizabethan and Jacobean Deer Parks of Kent – 16th May 2012 at 14:30

Location: Boughton Monchelsea Place, Maidstone ME17 4BU

Cost: £20.00 (to include cream tea)

Susan Pittman wrote her doctoral thesis on Elizabethan and Jacobean Deer Parks in Kent. She has kindly agreed to give a talk on deer parks and her chosen location for this is the beautiful C16 manor house of Boughton Monchelsea Place which has its own deer park and herd of fallow deer. The 1650 boundaries of the park still survive. After her talk we shall have a tour of the park and the charming garden and the afternoon will end with cream tea.




Annual Lecture – 19th October 2011 at 19:00

Location: Lenham Community Centre, Lenham, Maidstone ME17 2QT

Cost: £13.00 (including wine and light refreshments)

The Conservation and Management of Historic 20th century Flower Gardens We are honoured that our annual autumn lecture this year will be given by John Sales. John was Gardens Adviser for the National Trust for 25 years and is eminently qualified to talk about the particular problems surrounding the conservation of flower gardens The conservation of the built elements of gardens such as terraces and garden buildings is well understood but conserving the planting is a much more complicated undertaking. John proposes guidelines for the guardians of historic flower gardens.




Hole Park - Origins and Influences – 23rd May 2011 at 11:00

Location: Hole Park, Rolvenden, TN174JA

Cost: £28.00 (includes tea and coffee on arrival, lunch and afternoon tea)

The garden at Hole Park was laid out in the early 20th century by Col. Arthur Barham with formal compartments around the house and a woodland garden. The family have a remarkable archive containing plans, photographs and notebooks which record the creation and development of the garden. Dr. Barbara Simms, lecturer in garden history, editor of the Journal of the Garden History Society, author of a biography of John Brookes and specialist in 19th and 20th century gardens will give an introductory talk on the fashion for formality in the early part of the 20th century. The present owner, Edward Barham will then tell us about the creation of the garden by his great-grandfather. After lunch we will have a guided tour round the garden which will be looking wonderful with spring flowering shrubs and trees.






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