21st Century Gardens, by Penelope Hobhouse (continued...)

“Nowadays things have completely changed. We have controlled nature more, so instead of being in opposition to nature, we are trying to be in tune with it. We need to be environmentally friendly as well as artistic. Whether we are making a garden in the wetlands or the desert, we have to respect the environment, and design our gardens according to what is good for the area.”

“I’ve worked widely on gardens all over the USA, and this has been very much a good thing because of the vast climatic differences you get from the deserts in Texas to the extremes of heat and cold in the North East of the country. It has been an enlightening experience.”

She’s in a hurry to get off the phone (I’ve called fifteen minutes later than I said I would and someone’s arrived for lunch) so I quickly ask her a tip for people with small gardens. “People try to put too many things in too many small pots,” she says. “Everything is on a small scale, and it looks awful. It’s much better to get a couple of big pots and to have two big plants than having too much on a small scale.” As a parting shot (I’ve already promised I’d get off the phone three times) I tell her to take a look at Grange Gardens before she leaves Lewes, which she has never before visited. Suddenly, as I’m describing the layout and history of the gardens, she doesn’t seem in so much of a hurry. “I most certainly will have a look,” she says. I just know she’s going to be impressed. AG

In Search of Paradise, Penelope’s latest book, available from 19th
October on www.Frances-lincoln.com
Lewes Town Hall
When? 2.30pm
How Much? £10 (£5 for Garden Society members) with free tea