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Cultivating the Imagination....

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Autumn sunshine in Painshill Park, Surrey

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I first visited Painshill Park nearly thirty years ago. I remember it was a wonderfully derelict, overgrown place inhabited by ghosts from a glorious past. This was soon after the charity trust was set up in order to restore the 18 century landscape gardens and the work was really only just beginning. The water mill was restored and I may have even climbed up the Gothic Temple but the grotto was all closed off with just a tantalising glimpse through the under growth of what might be there. Since then I have visited a few times and each visit something had been brought back to life or reinstated. My last visit a few weeks ago was shortly after the restoration on all the follies and bridges had been completed including the Crystal Grotto and the Five Arch Bridge.


It is a strange place. Not really a garden but more than just a classically landscaped park. The best way to see it is with no idea of what to expect and each folly is a surprise. Bit like a favourite film or story, it's a shame you can never repeat that first naive experience.


As with all good gardens, each season has it's own character and atmosphere and Painshill Park is now as much about the planting as the follies. Much thought has been given to the original planting ideas formed by the gardens creator the Hon. Charles Hamiton and in summer there is colour and scent from a wide range of ornamental plants. The John Bartram Heritage Collection of North American trees and shrubs has been awarded full collection status by Plant Heritage (NCCPG).

Some gardens I visit purely for their plants, some for the overall design experience, but this garden is a good walk with some really weird and interesting things to see. The best bit is definitely the Grotto but I'm not going to ruin the surprise by describing here, just go and see it! For more information about creating a good autumn garden or even designing a folly contact me on 020 8767 1458



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My enthusiasm for talking about anything to do with gardening has led me into public speaking which I thoroughly enjoy. My style is challenging yet light hearted and my talks are illustrated with my own photography and artwork. I am regularly asked to talk to charities, gardening groups and organisations about a wide range of garden related topics.

I am also lucky enough to have co written a successful book called Planting Design Essentials which has a wealth of information for both beginners and experienced gardeners. In it I share my passion for using plants as an art form in a simple, easy to follow style and the book explains how even pruning can be creative.
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If you would like to find out more about how Pamela could help you please call 020 8767 1458 or 07930 362 498



Planting Design Essentials is aimed at the frustrated gardener or designer who would like to know how to improve their planting and keep it looking good for years to come. With practical advice, clear examples, illustrations and photographs, it is an inspirational guide written by two experienced garden designers who regularly practice and teach this complex subject.