The Magic of Plants

The Magic of Plants – biennial conference

Bunny Guiness

The conference was held on Saturday 6th May at Leeds Beckett University (Headingley Campus)
The speakers were:
Bunny Guinness, landscape architect, journalist and regular panellist Gardeners’ Question Time.



Troy Scott-Smith, Head Gardener, Sissinghurst Castle
Val Bourne, the UK’s leading natural gardener
Marina Christopher, of Phoenix Perennial Plants – a tapestry of unusual perennial plants and grasses.


This was a great day for plant lovers. All four speakers were interesting, witty and, above all, superbly well-informed about their subjects.

A strong theme running through the day was the need to use chemicals sparingly, if at all. Several speakers were able to demonstrate from their experience that pesticides usually cause an imbalance in the garden, which very quickly makes the problem worse, as pest predators are either killed or driven away.

Troy Scott-Smith and Bunny Guinness both spoke about the importance of making a garden fit into its place. This could mean using the best bits of the landscape and surrounds to enhance a garden, or on the other hand, to hide elements outside the gardener’s control which spoil the effect.

Right plant, right place was another theme which all speakers understood, though they were all at pains to indicate that trial and error is often the best way to find out what the right plant is! Both Val Bourne and Marina Christopher garden in areas where the local climate is less sympathetic to their gardens than they would wish, so it was fascinating to hear their very honest stories of how they overcame obstacles to create wonderful gardens.

Plant sale

The plant stalls were packed with interesting and unusual plants – it proved impossible to walk away without a purchase.

Our next conference will be in two years’ time and will feature a surprise guest speaker!

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