Home > Summer School > Summer School 2022 > CONSERVATION AND NATURE > Glorious gardens from around the world


Margaret Abbott, volunteer garden lecturer and tour guide

As with music and architecture, gardens are the unique creations of their maker(s) and sometimes their story is just as interesting as the gardens they create and leave behind. Each richly illustrated lecture in this course covers horticulture, art, architecture and history, as well as personal insights from those gardens personally visited.

The Prince of Wales’ private garden at Highgrove House in the Cotswolds reveals an amazing and unexpected side to the heir to the throne. Long known for his eco and organic principles, Prince Charles has charted a course many follow today. This lecture explores the architecture, horticulture and principles of gardening in this most iconic of English gardens.

Giverny is artist Claude Monet’s remarkable garden in Normandy which was his inspiration for many of his most famous paintings, including the water lilies series. Next is Villandry, located in the Loire Valley and the home of a lovely chateau and an even more famous garden, totally different in style to Giverny. This lecture explores the possible connection between Villandry and Babylonstoren.

The third lecture will explore the principles, elements and mystery behind the simple evocative designs of Japanese gardens. Completely different from Western gardens, the Japanese garden is a complete manipulation of nature. Stopping in Martha’s Vineyard to see Mytoi Garden, as well as San Francisco and Kyoto, we will visit several famous gardens and learn about the important elements of water, rocks, gravel, tea houses, bridges and trees.

The tulip has had the most colourful, treacherous, misunderstood and far-reaching cultivation of almost any flower except perhaps the rose. Tulips originated on the steppes of Asia where they can still be seen in the most inhospitable of climates. But, thanks to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire and the Silk Road, the tulip was an international traveller, stopping for a most illustrious period in Constantinople, before being hijacked to Holland where the Dutch mastered its cultivation better than any other nation.

One of the most famous of all English gardens, Sissinghurst, was created by Vita Sackville-West, poet and writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. Delving into her colourful and unconventional past, Vita was as well known for her lovers as for her remarkable garden which today is still breathtaking, as well as original, just like its creator.


Lecture titles

1.  Prince Charles’ garden at Highgrove

2.  Two French gardens: Giverny and Villandry

3.  Japanese gardens: in Japan and around the world

4.  The history of the tulip

5.  Vita Sackville-West and the creation of Sissinghurst





DATE: Monday 10–Friday 14 January
TIME: 9.15 am
COURSE FEES: R375 (online)/R550 (in person)