Meet the Gardeners that make the grounds so beautiful at Hampshire’s horticultural destination – Houghton Lodge Gardens
The gardening team at Houghton Lodge Gardens. Above (left to right) Kevin Barnett, Hazel Smith and Stella Weir.
The extensive gardens and grounds of Houghton Lodge are studded with fine trees, flower and vegetable gardens, formal gardens, water meadows and lawns sweeping down to the walking paths of the River Test hailed as ‘The most romantic River in England”.
In all, there are 14 acres to tend and nurture, overseen by the newly created gardening team of three – Kevin Barnett, Hazel Smith and Stella Weir. Incredible gardens are a team effort of skills, enthusiasm and sheer hard work. Boasting decades of collective knowledge and experience the three are busy developing inspiring new ideas to showcase colour, texture and shape, and cultivating the established historical gardens to their full potential.
Over the winter months Kevin, Hazel and Stella have been planting, cutting and tidying the informal and formal gardens, which resulted in a stunning start to the season. Thousands of tulips erupted in the raised beds; a welcome sight in the Walled Garden after such a dreary winter! The bluebells blossomed and soon-to-burst alliums are all testament to the care and passion of the team.
Stella trained as a master gardener in Canada and after moving to the UK 10 years ago, has worked at a number of private Hampshire gardens. Kevin retrained from a career in public service after studying an RHS advanced certificate in Horticulture and a Foundation degree in Garden design at Sparsholt college.
Hazel said: ‘From when I was a child I would sit with a huge encyclopedia of plants – I was fascinated by what was growing around me. It is wonderful to work with nature and so satisfying to work with soil. Houghton Lodge Gardens is so peaceful and beautiful. I’ve loved seeing the gardens transform this spring… it makes all the cold and wet weather days worth it.’
June is a beautiful time to visit, highlights include: the peony walk and rose arbour coming into bloom, the wild flower meadow, walls and flower beds of all shapes and sizes bursting with colourful foliage. Gorgeous smelling sweet peas will be in their prime and the Herb Garden at its peak, all providing a romantic backdrop as the wedding season enters its peak season.
Houghton Lodge Gardens has joined the RHS Garden Partner Scheme for 2016 which means members of the RHS can visit the gardens Monday – Friday for free entrance upon showing their membership card.
The gardens are open 10am – 5pm daily until the 30th September including Daisy’s of Houghton Tea Rooms, serving refreshments, light lunches and afternoon teas.