Breakfast with Mr Beardshaw

The hotel's outdoor venue for lunch at the public spaces workshop I attended last Thursday

Here's the main points I've mentioned thus far from last week's workshop:
  • We must say NO! to mediocre quality in our public spaces and,
  • Community involvement is key to success
It's time now to put some flesh on those bones and to tell you a little bit more about what the workshop was about. About 100 of us attended, drawn from students, local authorities, charities, landscape architects, garden designers, other horticultural professionals and a tiny sprinkling - at least 2 others - of the general public like me who are passionate about public planting. We were treated to some extremely good speakers who were:
  • Nick Coslet - Marketing Director of Palmstead Nurseries, our hosts. Nick gave a few pointers on public planting from a nurseryman's experience in addition to welcoming us all for the day
  • Kate Lowe - Editor of Horticulture Week, who chaired the workshop and gave an industry overview *
  • Chris Beardshaw - the well-loved TV gardener, giving us the socio-political background to public open spaces. I was impressed by his knowledge and passion for the subject. I'm also glad he gave a different presentation to the one advertised (though Ideas for Exciting Planting would have been good too), as I'd been seeking just this kind of overview in my background research and failed
  • Richard Bisgrove of Reading University's Landscape Management department - an expert on Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson, who also spoke about climate change
  • John Tweddle - Westminster council's open spaces manager, who looked at open space management issues from the Local Authority (LA) viewpoint. John freely admitted he's in the privileged position of having a unusually large budget when compared with other LAs, but he still has to deliver value for money
  • Brita von Schoenaich - the open space story from the naturalistic and landscape architect's viewpoints. Brita has also indulged in a little guerrilla gardening in her time!
That was the morning session. In the afternoon we headed off down the road for a guided tour of the most impressive nursery. That has to be a separate post to do it justice. Having started to summarise the presentations, written loads and only summarised two of them, I now realise I can't squeeze the rest into one piece. I'll have to break it down into bitesize chunks, so having introduced the main speakers to you, I'll leave it there for now.
However, I did have one fantastic surprise, which I must tell you about before I go. I bumped into Catherine Kenny of Weeding Between the Lines at lunchtime. She'd been searching for me all morning and of course I should have realised she might be there, seeing I was pretty much on her doorstep. It was lovely to meet her and I can happily report she's very well, extremely busy with all her garden design projects, so doesn't have the time to blog right now. Though I do see a few green shoots over there at the moment :)
So where does having Breakfast with Mr Beardshaw come in? Well, we did exchange pleasantries over the scrambled eggs and grilled tomato trays, but Breakfast at the Diagonally Opposite End of the Dining Room from Mr Beardshaw, doesn't grab the attention quite so much does it? ;)
* = I can't provide you with a meaningful link to her work as you need to subscribe to Horticulture Week in order to do so. As I find that makes me really cross when that happens with links on other blogs and websites - imagine me stamping my foot in annoyance at this point - I'm not going down that road here. Harrumph.


  1. Sorry I've not visited your blog for a while with enough time to leave comments - looks as if this was an interesting course... I also read your lovely posting on the Special Plants garden - somewhere I've always intended visiting but when back in Bristol there just hasn't been enough time... I'll get there one day as it really does look great... Congrats on your blogging award as well - Miranda

  2. Thanks everso for delurking and commenting on my blog! Janex

    PS - half the mailboxes around Brushford have shotgun pellets in them!

  3. With workshops like these, Britain's public spaces are bound to be full of beautiful blooms very soon!

    Catching up on posts today--as I always seem to be doing--and saw your "haul" from gardening friends. What fun! Over the last year I've received several little gifts and plant starts from fellow bloggers; it's always a treat to receive something special like this in the mail.

  4. A glimpse of Mr.Beardshaw - now what a fine start to the day :) Sounds a most interesting and inspiring morning VP. Looking forward to the next installment.

  5. Miranda - no need to apologise, you're most welcome whenever you can make it over here :) Special Plants is worth a visit many times - I've just found the article in The English Garden and I reckon the photos are from last year as quite a lot of the planting was different when we were there!

    Exmoorjane - welcome! I hope to lurk less and comment more over at yours in the future :)

    Rose - the workshop's given me plenty of ideas on what could be done here in Chippenham. However, I'm also mindful that my ideas might not be what the majority want!

    Anna - not just a glimpse, but a very good presentation later :)


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