A Victorian urinal and the Beatles’ childhood home have been given national protection, but there is no legal safeguard for our ancient trees. The broadcaster, Woodland Trust expert and director of the National Trust in Wales discuss whether buildings receive greater recognition than the landmarks of the natural world. Chaired by Kitty Corrigan.
The multi-award-winning landscape designer brothers come straight to Hay from Chelsea. They talk to Francine Stock about their recent projects and their philosophy. ‘We believe in a fusion between landscape and architecture. An important relationship that encourages a more rounded approach to an outdoor lifestyle, creating not only beautiful but practical spaces, inspiring people to use their gardens.
Reconnecting people with nature is something we are very passionate about. With a recent increase in urbanisation, our connection with “the wild” is slowly becoming lost. We aim to give people their own patch of nature but set within a sympathetic and structured design.’
In the Islamic tradition, a garden with its central elements of water, the scent of fruit trees, and places for rest and reflection, celebrates Heaven on Earth. The gardener Monty Don and acclaimed photographer Derry Moore set off on a journey to find out more about the principles and immersive delights of paradise gardens and how a very different culture and climate has influenced garden design round the world. From the Real Alcazar and the Alhambra in Spain to a Mughal garden in Bradford, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Maidan in Isfahan, Iran, the birthplace of paradise gardens, they present a glorious celebration of the richness of Islamic culture through some of the most beautiful gardens on earth.
We look at the future of farming in Britain and ask what ‘better’ might look like: better for farmers, better for people who need food. What are the issues that matter most? Diversification, ‘big-agri’ ownership, the relationship with supermarkets, the mental health of the people who work the land, the land itself or the quality of produce? Hughes is the National Trust's General Manager for Pembrokeshire, overseeing more than 30 tenanted farms, Blackmore (Harper Adams) specialises in farm engineering, Boycott is Food Advisor to the Mayor of London and Carrington is a young farmer from Hereford.
Many of our own gardens contain an abundance of edible and medicinal plants, grown mainly for their ornamental appearance. Most gardeners are completely unaware that what they have actually planted is a rather exotic kitchen garden. The Garden Forager explores some of the most popular garden plants that have edible, medicinal or even cosmetic potential. Nozedar’s recipes and remedies are exquisitely illustrated in watercolours by Lizzie Harper. She talks while Harper illustrates live.
Which tree is often used in the treatment of cancer? Which everyday condiment is the most widely traded spice on the planet? Plants are an indispensable part of our everyday lives. From the coffee bush and grass for cattle (which give us milk for our cappuccinos), to the rubber tree that produces tyres for our cars, our lives are inextricably linked to the world of plants. The Curator of the Oxford University Herbaria identifies the plants that have been key to the development of the western world.
A huge breeding programme is needed to produce the new varieties of English Roses. The Rosarian talks about the work involved and gives a behind-the-scenes look at making the David Austin Roses garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. Join us to launch the Roald Dahl Rose, in celebration of the writer’s centenary year.
Trees are one of humanity’s most constant and most varied companions. From India’s sacred banyan tree to the fragrant cedar of Lebanon, they offer us sanctuary and inspiration – not to mention the raw materials for everything from aspirin to maple syrup. Jonathan Drori, a trustee of The Woodland Trust and The Eden Project, uses plant science to illuminate how trees play a role in every part of human life, from the romantic to the regrettable.
The acclaimed historian shares his profound love of trees and reverence for nature, rooted in the family estate of Tullynally in Ireland. He travels to the Tibetan border in search of a particular magnolia, to Eastern Patagonia to see the last remaining giants of the Monkey Puzzle tree, while the first of the Chinese-inspired gardens at Tullynally was planted entirely with seeds from south-west China. An expedition to Tibet’s Tsangpo Gorge goes awry only to lead to a fruitful exploration of the Rongchu Valley, which yields more than 100 bags of seeds, including the Tibetan golden oak, the Tsangpo cypress and blue-stemmed maples.
The Duchess of Rutland tells the story of the rediscovery of the great landscape designer’s abandoned plans for the Leicestershire estate. In a sumptuously illustrated lecture she shows how the original vision has now been articulated at one of Britain’s most spectacular country houses. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.
Fortey presents his wood, deep in the Chiltern Hills, as an interwoven collection of different habitats rich in species. His attention ranges from the beech and cherry trees that dominate the wood to the flints underfoot; the red kites and woodpeckers that soar overhead; the lichens, mosses and liverworts decorating the branches as well as the myriad species of spiders, moths, beetles and crane-flies. The 300 species of fungi identified in the wood capture his attention as much as familiar deer, shrews and dormice. The great palaeontologist is the author of Fossils: A Key to the Past, The Hidden Landscape, Life: An Unauthorised Biography, Trilobite! and The Earth: An Intimate History. Chaired by Dan Davis.
From the food on our plates to the greens in our garden, many plants share one extraordinary characteristic – they contain two, three or even 10 copies of their entire genetic code in each of their cells. This so-called ‘polyploidy’ crams cells full of DNA and not only gives us weird and wonderful-looking plants, but almost all of the plants we eat every day. The Director of Science at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew and Michael Faraday Prize winner talks about polyploidy and how it will help us take on our great global challenges.
The author of The Tulip and The Curious Gardener explores the different ways in which we have, throughout the ages, responded to the land. While painters painted and writers wrote, an entirely different band of men, the agricultural improvers, also travelled the land and published a series of remarkable commentaries on the state of agricultural England. They looked at the land in terms of its usefulness as well as its beauty and, using their reports, Pavord explores the many different ways in which land was managed and farmed, showing that what is universal is a place’s capacity to frame and define our experience.
Augusta of Saxe-Gotha arrived in England aged sixteen, speaking barely any English, to be married to the wild Prince Frederick, the reviled eldest son of George II. Her lifelong association with Kew Gardens, and that of her husband and their close friend, Lord Bute, would prove to be one that changed the face of British gardening forever. Berridge tells a tangled tale of royal intrigue, scandal and determination in the Georgian court, and draws us into the politically charged world of garden design.
The metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan is much anthologized – “I saw Eternity the other night”, “They are all gone into the world of light’; but it is not so well known that he was a native of the Usk valley, and that it is the light on the river and hills of Brecknockshire that shines through his poetry. Inspired by George Herbert, his work interweaves the natural and the spiritual world. Three Vaughan scholars celebrate his work and sense of place.
Why did landscape become a subject for art in the 18th century and not before? Where might we look for clues to an earlier ‘sense of place’? The Professor of English, author of Weatherland and Romantic Moderns, examines the history of English landscape painting and local writing from the particular perspective of going back to her childhood home in Sussex. She talks with Tim Dee, editor of a timely collection of the best British nature writing newly commissioned by one of the great authorities on the subject - Ground Work. The book explores a sense of place, and our obligations of custodianship in this land.