Head gardener of Sissinghurst Castle Garden to give final James Hearsum Lecture

May 2014

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

The head gardener at a world renowned garden will deliver the final horticulture lecture at Writtle College next week.

Troy Scott Smith will speak about his first year in post at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent in the final talk in the popular James Hearsum Lecture Series.

Troy’s talk, next Tuesday (6 May), is entitled ‘Revitalising Vita’, a reference to the garden’s famous creator, the poet and writer Vita Sackville-West, who transformed the garden with her diplomat and author husband, Harold Nicolson, in the 1930s.

He said: “I am delighted to be returning to Essex and Writtle College. I spent an all too brief a time as Curator at Hyde Hall garden but met some lovely gardening folk and saw some wonderful gardens whilst there.

“Sissinghurst Garden has long been renowned as a jewel in the National Trust’s crown. Over a number of years a combination of underfunding, increased wear and tear from greater visitor numbers plus extended opening, and a lack of change and renewal have resulted in a garden that is no longer at its best. Thinner planting and a degree of predictability have also crept into the garden as a result of the increasingly limited time for gardeners to actually do gardening.

“We want to recapture the distinctive qualities of Vita and Harold’s Sissinghurst, restoring the elements of romance, experimentation and exuberance that we have struggled to perpetuate in recent years. In doing this, our aim is to show that significant and historic gardens can be managed successfully while accommodating large scale visitor numbers.”

This year’s James Hearsum Lecture Series was opened by landscape and garden designer Anthony Paul. The other speakers were Richard Barley, the new Director of Kew Gardens’ Horticulture, Timothy Walker, Director of Oxford Botanic Garden, and Wolfgang Bopp, the Director of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire.

Brainchild of former horticulture student James Hearsum, the annual comprehensive, illustrated lecture series is now in its ninth year. Organised by Greg Allen, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Studies at the College with a team of first, second and third year students, all proceeds go to the Writtle College Students’ Union and are used to provide student travel bursaries to some of the most important gardens.

Troy’s lecture starts at 7.30pm in the Northumberland Lecture Theatre at the College. Tickets are on sale on the door at 7pm priced at £10 for visitors.