Gardening for the Public
Salisbury is one of England’s most admired gardening
ladies. This weekend she hosts an annual Festival of
Gardening in the grounds of her family’s historic
home, Hatfield House. Here she tells George Plumptre
about the challenges of looking after one of England’s
most historic gardens.
Have you always enjoyed gardening?
Yes, ever since my earliest childhood when wild flowers
were one of my special loves
What is your favourite part of the garden at Hatfield?
I haven’t really got a favourite part because
I love it all, tho’ if I’m working on some
exciting new planting or design for a certain area that
is always my favourite of the moment
Was it daunting to take over a great historic garden?
Yes, very, especially as there was so much that we wanted
to change. My constant worry was would I get it right,
because how dreadfully it would matter if I didn’t.
But it was a challenge and I love challenges
What is the one thing in the garden you would like to
I would like to redesign the north front. It is the
main entrance to the house, but after being altered
during the 19th century is very bleak and unsympathetic
to the older Jacobean house.
What is the best thing about having your garden open
to the public?
It is nice and rewarding to know that so many people
enjoy what has been created
What is the worst thing about having your garden open
to the public?
The loss of peace and the loss of plants!
What is the main idea of the Festival of Gardening?
To promote horticulture with an emphasis on organic
gardening and on Jacobean gardens.
George: What is the one thing you have done in the garden
that you are most proud of?
Possibly to have made it in harmony with the house
George: What is your favourite activity in the garden?
Weeding and working in the woodland garden
George: If you could have any garden in the world which
one would it be?
I don’t think I have seen enough of the world
to say, but from the gardens I know Courances in France
for its wonderful design, water, and atmosphere of tranquillity.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com