Hyde Hall - its delights and possibilities

An illustrated talk to Hadleigh Gardening Association by Robert Brett

Occasional gardener

Thursday 16th March 2017 saw another in the excellent series of talks at Hadleigh Gardening Association in HOFS.  A full house enjoyed the illustrated presentation by Robert Brett, Curator, on the delights and possibilities of RHS Garden Hyde Hall.   {Pictured from the event are Robert, left, in discussion with Chair, Barry Wootten.}     

Photo:Robert and Barry

Robert and Barry


   Robert told us about the exceptional progress in RHS outreach, e.g.

  • Britain in Bloom (300,000 volunteers, 21,000 acres planted with over 170,000 trees)  
  • glowing pictures of RHS Wisley’s transformation, to engaging visitors more;   
  • Harlow Carr’s plans for the Harrogate Arms to be repurposed as a conference centre;
  • the joys of RHS Rosemoor 

He explained Salford’s Worsley New Hall’s 156 acres - effectively the fifth RHS Garden - would be named Bridgewater after the Bridgewater canal running alongside.   The expert audience gave a sharp intake of breath when they heard about its 11 acre walled garden, about the size of Chelsea Flower Show, with 15 feet walls.  What a potential jewel!

And on to the main topic…. Hyde Hall, originally a working farm, the garden started by the Robinsons in the 1950s and donated by their Trust to the RHS in 1993.

To ensure delivery  of the RHS vision for all its sites as Gardens for all Seasons, Hyde Hall needed a more reliable water supply than the desert levels of rainfall in this part of Essex. Accordingly a deep, 100 million gallon reservoir was completed -  filled from  drainage on  the site itself, it transpired  in the later Q&A session.

{The interview picture shows Matthew Wilson - left of picture, next to Robert.}   

Photo:Matthew and Robert

Matthew and Robert


   The Hilltop Garden is the heart of Hyde Hall,  - Clover Hill is to the west of the site.  

Matthew Wilson started the dry garden in 2002 - as shown in all its splendour on the poster, below -  following the trailblazing work of Beth Chatto near Colchester.  Chris and Nige look after the extensive lawns, they only signal  satisfaction with their work when a notice is erected:  “Feel free to remove your shoes and socks.”

Hyde Hall have invited Adam Frost to give his views of the latest evolutions of the Garden Masterplan, resulting in more focus on creating inspiring journeys for visitors, as they move from the Arrivals building to the choice of different garden elements.

The Masterplan was originally predicated on visitors numbering around 250,000,  but events have overtaken the plan, with 270,000 already achieved last year.  What are the limits?  Kew is about the same size and visitors there exceed a million annually.   With this level of interest, and to safeguard Hyde Hall’s future, the team is having to be more radical in its planning, designing new buildings for the Hilltop which will also offer views over the Essex countryside.  This could also link with Adam Frost’s recommendation to maintain strong links with local agricultural traditions.  

A daring exploration of the world’s sources of food will be created with the Global Growth Vegetable Garden, sponsored to show plants from many parts, with some links to the catering offered on-site.    From almost bare earth now, featuring an Indian plum tree, dahlia, (tubers used for soup in Mexico) will be grown amongst more familiar vegetables in quadrants around a central circular temperate glass house.  This is all planned to open 15th and 16th July this year!

The superb rose walk, trees, dry garden and year-round colour are always major Hyde Hall attractions. In addition to these familiar jewels, the big sky meadow sown with wild flowers and the 60,000 trees planted to create shelter belts around the whole site show the Hyde Hall team is thinking long-term and building resources of water and environment to match their ambition.  

The audience enthusiastically agreed,  exciting times!

Photo:HGA Poster for the evening

HGA Poster for the evening


This page was added by Stu Edward on 21/03/2017.