A talk given by Andrew Sankey on Sir William Hooker
‘A Tale of Three Gardens’
(Sissinghurst, The Courts Garden & Bodnant Garden) An illustrated talk by Troy Scott Smith formerly Head Gardener at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens.
Troy grew up in Ilkley, West Yorkshire and after spending seven years gaining garden experience, in 1997 Troy was appointed Head Gardener for the National Trust’s 6-acre property, The Courts Garden. Laid out by the architect Colonel Hastings in 1900 this Arts and Crafts garden has a mixture of formal and informal areas to look after, and Troy established the new kitchen garden and championed an early example of planting wildflower meadows.
Looking for a new challenge Troy took up the Head Gardener’s position at 120-acre Bodnant Garden in North Wales. During his seven years there he oversaw the restoration of the rose gardens, long canal pond, the famous Laburnum tunnel and the complete rebuilding (and tricky painting of) the extensive trellis-work pergola. The garden contains 5 national plant collections and 20 ‘champion trees’, and many beds needed digging out and replacing with new soil and plant stocks. Troy explained the difficulties encountered to keep the garden looking beautiful and true to its origins whilst coping with thousands of visitors each year.
In 2013 Troy headed south west to take on the lead garden role at NT Sissinghurst Castle, surely one of the country’s most visited gardens, created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, and more latterly, managed by the formidable gardening duo Pamela Schwerdt and Sibylle Kreutzberger. Visitor numbers regularly top 200,000 each year and Troy felt that many decisions about planting, maintenance and surfacing of paths have changed the original romantic feel in this garden. Troy enlisted the help of Dan Pearson, and the area around the entrance and car park have been softened with flower meadows, a farmyard pond restored and views across the surrounding countryside opened up. In the garden itself, stone steps have been rebuilt and another smaller pond has been cleared and refilled. Although Troy has now moved to Iford Manor gardens in Wiltshire he is still supervising the final stages of construction of the Delos rock garden, which will be opened in July 2020.
Troy is an accomplished and entertaining speaker, and many of us have now pledged to visit, or revisit, the gardens we heard about, to see the results of all the hard work by Troy and his teams of gardeners.
Tate Talk 2024
Saturday 2nd March, 2024 2pm
‘Gertrude Jekyll‘ An illustrated talk by Caroline Holmes
Venue: Bawdeswell Village Hall, NR20 4RU