Matthew Pottage and Tom Stuart-Smith at Altamont Plant Sales

  • Talk 1: The Living Treasurers at RHS Gardens Wisley at 11.30 a.m.


    Matthew Pottage, former Curator delves into the captivating world of Wisley’s extraordinary plant collections, which are cherished for their historical, botanical and horticultural significance. This talk highlights some of the most remarkable specimens that make Wisley a treasure trove for plant enthusiasts and researchers alike.

    Wisley has been gardened since the late 1800’s and, since 1904, it has been the flagship garden of the RHS, and a hub of horticulture and plant collecting by many hundreds of gardeners, students and enthusiastic volunteers.  With a focus on cultivar plants and not always to a regimented design or masterplan, the garden has evolved through many gardeners’ and curators’ passion for plants, as opposed to a formal design (at Wisley there was no Capability Brown or Humphry Repton!).  The result is a beautifully characterful landscape, with many eccentric and unusual trees, plant collections, and horticultural themes across the 200 acre landscape.  The plant collections continue to evolve to this day, and with a team of over 100 horticulturists, Wisley is the garden in the UK with the most registered National Plant Collections, and boasts over 100 Champion Trees.

    Matthew Pottage, with his extensive expertise and passion for gardening, takes us on a journey through the garden’s rich history, showcasing unique and rare plants that thrive in Wisley’s diverse landscapes. Additionally, Matthew will share his top favourite plants that deserve a place in everybody’s garden, providing practical tips and insights on how to incorporate these botanical gems into your own green spaces.

    Attendees will gain exclusive insights into the behind-the-scenes workings of one of the UK’s most prestigious gardens, discovering the stories behind some of its most iconic plants. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or simply an admirer of natural beauty, this talk promises to enrich your appreciation of the living treasures that make RHS Gardens Wisley a beacon of botanical excellence.

  • Talk 2 – Gardens are for People at 3 p.m.


    Celebrated landscape architect and recent gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show, Tom Stuart-Smith makes his first, eagerly awaited visit to the Carlow Garden Festival. Tom’s talk details his extensive experience designing public gardens that invite and inspire visitors.

    Over the last decade, Tom has crafted numerous notable gardens around the world, each with a unique story and purpose. From the serene Le Jardin Secret in the heart of Marrakech to the contemporary elegance of the Hepworth Wakefield Garden in Yorkshire, Tom’s designs exemplify how public gardens can be both beautiful and accessible. During his talk, Tom explores the key elements that contribute to a successful public garden, sharing insights on the intricate balance between aesthetic appeal and functional space.

    In addition to his renowned public projects, Tom discusses The Serge Hill Project, a community initiative he and his wife, Dr. Sue Stuart-Smith, have passionately developed. Central to this project is The Plant Library, a horticultural resource aimed at fostering community engagement and education through gardening. Tom sheds light on the project’s goals, the challenges faced, and the inspiring outcomes of creating a shared green space that brings people together.

    This talk offers a rare opportunity to learn from one of the leading figures in contemporary garden design. Tom’s insights into the philosophy and practice of creating gardens for people is guaranteed to leave all with a deeper appreciation for the art and science behind these living landscapes.

Date: 02 August 2024

Start Date: 02 August 2024

Start Time: 11:30 am

End Date: 02 August 2024

End Time: 4:30 pm

Time: 11:30 am - 4:30 pm

Admission: €35. Carparking fee of €2 applies for Altamont Gardens, irrespective of length of stay.

Directions: R93 N882. In the grounds of Altamont Gardens. From Dublin/Waterford exit the M9 at junction 5 for N80 Rosslare. Continue along the N80 through the village of Ballon and the N80/N81 junction. Turn left at the next cross road junction signed Altamont Gardens. From Carlow Town follow the N80 through Ballon and continue as above.

Type of event: This event takes place indoors. After each talk there is the opportunity to enjoy snacks and light lunches (soup, sandwiches and salads) from Sugar and Spice Cafe in the Walled Garden. There is direct access from Altamont Plant Sales into Altamont Gardens.

  • About Matthew Pottage


    Matthew is the former Curator of RHS Garden Wisley, and was the youngest curator ever appointed in the history of the Royal Horticultural Society at the time of his appointment, some eight years ago.  He is a regular panellist on BBC Radio Four’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’, and recently released his first book ‘How to Garden When you Rent’ with a desire to get more renters gardening.  He sits on the Board for the Fulham Palace, and the Advisory Committee for the Chelsea Physic Garden.  He has a passion for a wide range of ornamental plants, including conifers, hardy exotics, succulents and most things variegated! Hobbies outside of gardening include travel, cooking and hunting through antique shops.

  • About Tom Stuart-Smith


    Tom Stuart-Smith is a landscape architect and garden designer whose work combines naturalism with modernity and built forms with romantic planting. He read Zoology at the University of Cambridge before completing a postgraduate degree in Landscape Design. Tom has since designed gardens, parks and landscapes throughout the world.

    Recent projects in the public domain include several projects at Chatsworth, a new public garden at the Hepworth Wakefield, and the masterplan for RHS Garden Bridgewater, which is one of the largest new garden projects in Europe. 2021 saw the completion of a new Islamic garden, Jellicoe Gardens in Kings Cross, commissioned by the Aga Khan Development Network and Argent, and 2022 saw the dramatic recasting of a garden by St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London which has a 100m² water basin at its centre, reflecting Sir Christopher Wren’s famous dome. Current projects include a new garden at Knepp Castle that seeks to maximise biodiversity, and a new landscape to Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness in Scotland.

    Previous projects have included Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee Garden at Windsor Castle, Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire, the Bicentenary Glasshouse Garden at RHS Garden Wisley and the Keeper’s House Garden at the Royal Academy of Arts.

    International projects include Le Jardin Secret in the heart of the medina in Marrakech, a garden located on the waterways near Kottayam in Kerala, and show gardens for the international horticulture exhibition at IGA Berlin 2017 and the international garden expo Beijing 2019.

    He has also designed nine award winning gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, all of which were presented with gold medals and three ‘Best in Show’, between the years 1998 to 2010 for sponsors including Chanel, Laurent-Perrier and Daily Telegraph. In 2018 Tom returned to design a special garden in the centre of the marquee, celebrating 60 years of the Garfield Weston Foundation supporting charities of all sizes across the UK and their partnership with the new RHS Garden Bridgewater. The following year he returned once more to design a feature garden for the RHS to celebrate the opening of Bridgewater. In 2024 Tom returned to Chelsea, designing a garden in collaboration with the National Garden Scheme charity which secured a gold medal.

    Tom is a Vice President of the Royal Horticultural Society, a Trustee of the Garden Museum, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Fellow of the Landscape Institute, and a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers. Tom was awarded an OBE in the King’s Birthday honours in 2023.

    In May 2021, Thames & Hudson published Tom Stuart-Smith: Drawn from the Land, a critical monograph of his work, written by Tim Richardson, which features twenty-four gardens from around the world.

    Throughout his career Tom has also developed his own family garden at home in Hertfordshire, which is open to visitors each summer, by appointment. He and his wife, Dr Sue Stuart-Smith, are currently developing a community garden project on land close to his home which gained planning permission in 2019. The Serge Hill Project will open to the public regularly in 2024. www.sergehillproject.co.uk

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