With their instinctive flair, Elworthy and Courtauld established cutting gardens that bring the deep poetry of organic flowers to their enthusiastic customers. Patrick Kinmonth for American Vogue.
This year’s Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough event brings international guests Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld of The Land Gardeners to Blenheim.
The Land Gardeners design productive and beautiful gardens – wild, romantic and joyful – and they’ve restored walled and historic gardens in England, France, Italy, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. They grow and cut organic English flowers, delivering buckets of blooms to select London florists and private clients.
And they run workshops, demonstrating their research into plant and soil health – including an innovative approach to composting – exploring the ingredients that make the most bio-diverse and healthiest gardens. The Land Gardeners ‘Farm Project’ was launched last year, creating high quality microbially rich compost on a large scale, and educating and enabling other farmers and growers to do the same.
After meeting in London when their children were at the same nursery, Bridget and Henrietta each trained in garden design: Henrietta at the Inchbald School of Design, and Bridget at the Oxford College of Garden Design. Henrietta went on to work with high-profile garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith. In her native New Zealand, Bridget grew cut flowers at Craigmore, the South Canterbury property where her husband Forbes grew up, and where the family still has a home, returning each summer.
It was in New Zealand that Bridget started investigating soil health and biodynamic principles, learning much from Kay Baxter at Koanga Institute. The Land Gardeners continue to implement many of these ideas in their work back in the UK.
Bridget and Henrietta established The Land Gardeners in 2012, basing the business at Bridget and Forbes’s English home at Wardington Manor, a Grade II listed Jacobean house in an Oxfordshire village just beyond the eastern edge of the Cotswolds. Built on the site of a medieval nunnery, Wardington’s garden was replanted by Bridget and Henrietta in the joyful and flamboyant mode that has since become a feature of the gardens they’ve designed around the world.
Many of The Land Gardeners’ peonies grown at Wardington were brought over by Bridget’s mother-in-law, Fiona Elworthy, from Craigmore, the family farm in New Zealand.
The Land Gardeners and their work have been featured in Gardens Illustrated, House and Garden UK, American Vogue, World of Interiors, Country Life, and in many other magazines. They have a large and passionate following on Instagram, and have published two books, the second of which features Bridget and Henrietta’s work with cut flowers, to be published just ahead of their visit to Garden Marlborough. There’s also a wealth of information to be found at www.thelandgardeners.com
Enjoy a glass of bubbles as Bridget and Henrietta give an evening talk exploring their work in the UK and around the world, including the story of how they developed the gardens at Wardington Manor. They’ll also be running a Sunday workshop, giving us a flavour of the seasonal cut flowers they grow throughout the year, and discussing their work on climate composting and improving plant and soil health.
The buzz around The Land Gardeners’ visit started before we’d even released news of it – make sure you don’t miss out!
As they discuss their work, I am reminded of Dylan Thomas’s famous line “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” Both Elworthy and Courtauld light up with electric empathy. “That’s it!” they cry as one. “That's basically all you need to say. It’s absolutely all about celebrating that force, nurturing it, encouraging it, increasing its power in your life, living it and giving it.” - American Vogue.