The Gardens Illustrated Festival: 5 minutes with Arne Maynard

Garden designer, Arne Maynard will be speaking at the Gardens Illustrated Festival 2017, 25-26 March. Here you can find out more about his talk and the love he has for garden design. 


Central to Arne Maynard's work as a garden designer is his ability to identify and draw out the essence of a place, something that gives his gardens a particular harmony. He has a holistic approach to design and believes that to succeed, a garden must relate and respond to its surrounding landscape, its history and to the buildings within and around its confines, as well as to the needs of its owners.

Ahead of his talk, 'The Crafted Garden' at next year's Gardens Illustrated Festival, we caught up with Arne to find out more about his love of gardens and garden design.





Q: What is it about gardens and plants that you love?
A: I knew from a very early age that I was happiest in the garden. I used to follow my grandfather around his vegetable garden, trying to save carrots he had thinned out. And my godmother also encouraged my obvious love of plants by taking me to visit gardens whenever she could. I studied architecture originally, but soon realised that my need to be outside would dictate my career. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to follow my heart and build a business from my love of plants.

Q: Who or what inspires your approach to gardening?
A: I am most inspired by the landscape. My design philosophy relies on the location of the garden I am designing and my ability to draw inspirations, colour, texture and form from its landscape. As a gardener though I am also constantly inspired by those who truly garden the land they are custodians of. There is true skill in allowing nature to thrive in a way that feels both considered and relaxed. 

Q: Is there a style of planting you particularly love? Name a garden or place where this style can be seen.
A: The garden that awoke my passion for garden design as a young boy growing up in Dorset was Cranborne Manor. It was laid out in the 17th century by Mounten Jennings and John Tradescant, the latter of whom supplied many of the original plants. The historic structure of the garden is remarkable but what I found most interesting was the way it had been interpreted and gardened by Lady Salisbury, whose clever use of plants made it elegant and relaxed at the same time.

In addition, I continue to return to Rousham House and Gardens in Oxfordshire, designed by William Kent in the same century. It remains almost as Kent left it and is still owned by the same family who commissioned him. It is a wonderful example of early English landscape design showing the importance of creating a journey through a garden and the impact that is possible with a limited palette of plants and colour.

Q: What one plant could you not be without in your garden?
A: I couldn’t be without Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. I have it planted just outside my main door and during the shortest winter days it provides an abundance of flowers, which have the most wonderful scent, filling the air with their perfume. It is such a joy at a time of year when little else is flowering, that I can’t imagine leaving the house or coming home in winter without it.

Q: Why should more people be encouraged to take up gardening?
A: Gardening provides an essential physical connection with the environment. The physical act of gardening provides the opportunity to touch the soil, feel the air around us, experience the wind, rain, sunshine and create beauty from the natural elements we so often take for granted. My passion for gardening stems from a desire to work with nature to create an environment for the future, one that provides a rich haven for wildlife, particularly essential pollinators, and a place to grow food all year-round.

Q: The Gardens Illustrated Festival is in March - right at the start of the gardening season. Name an essential task we should be doing in our gardens in March?
A: Depending on the arrival of spring, March can either seem far too early to be in the garden, or a little too late! It is certainly worth starting to think about spending more regular time in garden from early March. The kitchen garden should be planned now and vegetables sown in the autumn should be hardened off before planting out. You should think about the structure of the herbaceous parts of your garden at this time of year too – what plant supports will be required by taller or climbing plants? We always take time in late February and March to build rose domes and other plant supports from native hazel coppiced close to Allt-y-bela. And now is the time to prepare for the seasons ahead by sowing and growing on plants that will offer plenty of choice later in the year.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at the Gardens Illustrated Festival?
A: Without doubt I am most looking forward to visiting the nursery stands and discovering both new plants and old favourites. I hope to meet up with nursery folk I haven’t seen for a while and to draw inspiration from the range of plants on offer. The Festival line up looks fantastic and I am looking forward to seeing as many of the talks as possible.

Q: What can we expect from your own talk?
A: I will be speaking about the way in which I strive for crafted excellence in all my designs, not just in the way I design a garden and select plants to give it structure and seasonal longevity, but in the details I choose to use within the design. From large and obvious pieces such as tables and other furniture, to the small details such as gate latches, training posts and water spouts. We should celebrate the great tradition of making and creating that our ancient love of gardening has afforded us and use the best craftsmen and women we can afford to give our gardens provenance and individuality, longevity and authenticity.


Arne Maynard will be speaking at the Gardens Illustrated Festival 2017 which takes place 25-26 March at Westonbirt School in the Cotswolds. To find out more about the festival and to book tickets to Arne's talk, 'The Crafted Garden' go to


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