I’m pleased to announc that next term’s Grapevine course at the IHR will be on the history of nurseries, market gardens and seed companies etc., with a look at the future of the British horticultural industry as well. I will be leading it but we’ve also got some excellent outside guest speakers  – including this year’s Master of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, Dr Heather Barrett-Mold,  Dr Jill Francis, Val Bott and Dr Audrey Gerber. There will also be two visits – one to the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading University to see their some of their extensive archives, and the other to Rochford’s nursery, with Paul Rochford, the owner who is also a past Master of the Gardeners.
The course will run for 11 weeks from Tuesday 14th January until Tuesday 24th March and will cost £258 [+ booking fee].  The provisional programme and booking details etc are, as usual, on Eventbrite  and in order to be fair to everyone tickets will not be available until 9.00 on Sunday 17th  November.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about it
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Welcome to Garden History Grapevine




We’re Letta Jones, David Marsh and Stephen Smith  – all experienced and enthusiastic lecturers and researchers in the history of gardens, landscape and horticulture.  We noticed that there were fewer and fewer garden history courses being laid on by institutions across the country and decided we’d try and do something about it, because we also noticed that there was a big demand for lively and informative ‘leisure’ courses, and for in-depth more specialist training and research based courses.


View from the roof of Broughton Castle, nr Banbury

View from the roof of Broughton Castle, nr Banbury

We’ve been working with all the big horticultural organizations  to try and stimulate and co-ordinate efforts to alter this, and its beginning to pay off.  In particular we’re working with The Gardens Trust to develop garden history courses outside of London.

Over the last couple of years,  in conjunction with the Birkbeck Garden History Group, [for more info see:]  we have run a series of one day introductions to garden history.  These proved a big success and we’re running another one this autumn.



At the same time we’ve persuaded City Lit, the country’s biggest provider of adult education, to run a series of much longer courses looking at the subject chronologically over the next 4 or 5 years. So far we’ve covered  mediaeval, Tudor and 17thc gardens and those of the early and mid-18thc.

This autumn we’ll be running one on the picturesque garden and designed landscapes of the later 18thc, and in the spring of 2019 taking that through into the early 19thc with one that looks at John and Jane Loudon, Joseph Paxton and Shirley Hibberd amongst others.

For more on these see: and search for garden history.

We’ve also been running some more specialist courses based at the Institute of Historical Research.  So far we’ve covered the  History of Botanic Gardens, Research skills and sources, the History of Public Parks, Humphry Repton in Context. This autum  we are offering one on Plants in Garden History. You can find details of the forthcoming ones on the Courses page.



In 2018 we were delighted to expand our team and begin running courses in Birmingham.  We’ve been joined by Dr Jill Francis and Advolly Richmond, and they have worked with Winterbourne House and Gardens, [part of the University of Birmingham] and with the Highbury Chamberlain Trust at Highbury Hall [the former home of Joseph Chamberlain, a great gardener as well as politician]  to run some introductory courses, with more being planned.




Jill is the author of Gardens and Gardening in Early Modern England and Wales, published by Yale earlier this year.  She teaches history at the University of Birmingham and the University of Worcester.



Advolly  is a trustee of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, a member of the Shropshire Parks and Garden’s Trust and she sits on the Gardens Trust Events Committee and is also a Garden Media Guild Award judge.





We are also pleased to welcome Dr Audrey Gerber as a colleague.  She is starting to run courses in the Bristol and Bath area this autumn.

You’ll find outline proposals for  all of these courses , and book  your place on Eventbrite:


from In the Garden with the Totterings, copyright Annie Tempest




We operate as individuals, working in co-operation rather than working for a business. And we all have other interests that we like to pursue as well.  This gives us more freedom to pick and choose what we do, but it also means that we get the advantage of working with like minded colleagues, and building up an audience of equally enthusiastic and lively people.  We’d love you to come along to one of our classes or study days and see for yourself!

We’re also looking for new colleagues who want to work with us in the future. If you want to discuss the possibilities with us then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our email is

Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire

Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire

If you want to know more about us then where possible follow the links to our own individual websites or contact us via




Version 2

In the new gardens at Hidcote, Gloucs

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