Gar­den­ing tal­ent

Andy is in charge of the gar­dens at the Na­tional Trust’s Fen­ton House, where his love of the dra­matic, and of bright and bold colours is trans­form­ing the prop­erty’s herba­ceous bor­ders

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Contents - POR­TRAIT ANDREW MONT­GOMERY

Meet Andy Dar­ragh, the man in charge of the gar­dens at the Na­tional Trust’s Fen­ton House

Ear­li­est gar­den mem­ory Hav­ing grown up in a coun­cil flat with no green space, I longed for the sum­mer holidays when we would visit my grand­par­ents. They had a large 1950s-style gar­den that I used to rel­ish help­ing out in. Edg­ing was al­ways a favourite job. First plant love I used to love the bright colours of bed­ding plants: the bolder, the brighter, the more flam­boy­ant the bet­ter. Noth­ing has re­ally changed; I still love flam­boy­ant de­sign and colour. My pal­ette has since moved away from gaudy bed­ding plants but I still see no bar­ri­ers when it comes to me re­design­ing a bor­der, as you’ll see from the bright colours in our bor­ders here at Fen­ton House. Favourite land­scape I love wa­ter, ro­mance, drama and a lit­tle fun in a gar­den. Villa d’Este near Rome has all th­ese at­tributes; I love the ro­man­tic set­ting, the grot­tos, the mas­sive foun­tains and wa­ter cas­cad­ing down the ter­races, cre­at­ing a heaven away from the heat, which makes you feel like you’re in a dream. Most valu­able train­ing Learn­ing all the ba­sic, prac­ti­cal hor­ti­cul­tural skills at Kew that started me off on my ca­reer path and spring-boarded my pas­sion into a pro­fes­sion. Favourite plant­ing style I love the style that we gar­den here at Fen­ton House: re­laxed old English style. There is some­thing about a walled gar­den with the magic of dis­cov­er­ing the space in­side the walls. I love the way this gar­den al­lows a cre­ativ­ity us­ing flow­er­ing plants rather than dra­matic land­scap­ing. Big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing gar­den­ers today Many back gar­dens have sim­ply be­come an ex­ten­sion of the house’s in­te­rior. I worry that this has cre­ated a dis­con­nect. I like the idea of a gar­den as a cre­ative green space that you can con­stantly keep work­ing and cre­at­ing, mak­ing a per­sonal patch of idyl­lic green heaven – rather than what can be seen in an in­te­rior mag­a­zine or on a TV show. Plant not to be with­out A gar­den is not a gar­den in my opin­ion with­out a ram­bling or climb­ing rose. I know they might be tra­di­tional and per­haps old fash­ioned but they are so beau­ti­ful and the scents are in­cred­i­ble. The next ques­tion should be which cul­ti­var, which would be im­pos­si­ble for me to an­swer to be hon­est. I would be hoard­ing like crazy to in­clude as many as pos­si­ble. Contact fen­ton­house@na­tion­al­ Fen­ton House, Hamp­stead Grove, Hamp­stead, Lon­don NW3 6SP. na­tion­al­


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