Through The Garden Gate: by Adrian James

February’s meeting was a very interesting presentation by Adrian James who is based in Worcestershire and is a garden photographer.  Adrian is a regular speaker at various events and his photography is used in magazines and advertising.

We were treated to a tour round five very different gardens starting with Kensington Roof Top Gardens, six floors up.  These were designed by Ralph Hancock between 1936 and 1938 and were grade two listed in 1986.  Although the gardens are unfortunately no longer open they are a fabulous example of English, Tudor and Spanish styles.

Our next journey was to Abbey Garden at Malmesbury.  These are five acres of formal gardens that become less so as you move away from the house.  Owned more recently by Ian and Barbara Pollard (naked gardeners), thankfully no pictures provided, Adrian felt  the topiary and a few other slides would suffice for the purpose of our meeting.

The third garden was Longstock Park Water Garden in Hampshire.  This is a 4000 acre estate owned by the John Lewis Partnership.  They grow fruit and veg here and supply Waitrose with their produce.  Adrian says the best time to visit is May and June, but in Winter it is beautiful too as you can clearly see the wonderful structure of the garden.  This garden is a series of islands and is one of Adrians all time favourites.

We then went to Kilver Court at Shepton Mallet.  This is a fabulous garden with a grade two listed viaduct running through it.  The viaduct is visible from all angles and does not look at all out of place.  Ernest Jardine began the garden in the 1800’s and he thought ahead as he built an area for his staff so they had a place to sit in their break.  His factory has now become the tea room.

Finally we finished at the Eden Project in Cornwall.  This was also a sobering experience as we were reminded of the message given out by the project.   Plants are our life support system.  It was shocking to learn that every 10 seconds a piece of the rainforest the size of a biome is destroyed by man.

Adrian concluded his presentation with some fascinating and quirky structures found in gardens, such as the water powered cuckoo clock, and stone tower at Westonbury Watermill.  There was also a huge dome made from 5000 wine bottles situated there.

Thank you very much to Adrian for his time and fascinating presentation.

Adrian can be contacted at