Gardens Illustrated
Gwyn Perry

Armscote Manor garden's Gwyn Perry: 'Take time to think through a task or plan a change'

Published: September 9, 2020 at 10:31 am

Gwyn cares for the beautifully matured Armscote Manor gardens, originally designed by Dan Pearson. Portrait James Kerr

Earliest garden memory My grandparents’ garden just outside York, which had lots of roses, an orchard and a large vegetable garden. I weeded and deadheaded roses with Grannie and picked ‘White Transparent’ apples, which were my favourite.


First plant love It became my ambition, after my first few months at Askham Bryan College to own or work with the best collection of begonias in the world. The variety of species fascinated me.

I hope people will now value our parks, open spaces and wider landscape more

Who has inspired your career the most Mr Henry Bird, my rural studies teacher at Joseph Rowntree Secondary Modern School, taught us how to whip-and-tongue graft fruit trees using wax and raffia when I was 14. It’s all down to him.

Three worthwhile tips Take time to think through a task or plan a change; recognise seedlings at their early stages, this allows best use of self-seeded subjects when hand weeding; and smelling the leaves, stems and flowers can be a great help with plant identification.

Most valuable training Being encouraged, and shown how, to ‘see’ things – not just look at them – and learning how to recognise plants from small pieces of material, especially twig identifications for trees. Having an identification or at least a good idea will allow you to research more information.

Underappreciated plant For me the aroids. Often flowering secretly beneath cover but with such unusual and amazing flowers.

In what direction do you see horticulture heading in the next few years I am hoping that because of the recent lockdown a good proportion of the country will now value our parks, open spaces and wider landscape more highly. The physical and mental benefits of gardens and gardening must be highlighted and the upturn in home vegetable growing encouraged.

Favourite gardening books RHS Plant Finder – I have more than a dozen copies from over the years and find it fun and sometimes frustrating each year to see what name changes there have been. I always find plants that I’ve never even heard of. And then there’s Mabberley’s Plant-book – a wondrous tome with so much information botanical and of wider interest. I never fail to be amazed by what plants can be used for.


Useful information Gwyn’s role includes welcoming to the garden school groups for educational sessions, as well as working with apprentices and assisting trainees as part of the Women’s Farm and Garden Association (WFGA), which helps those keen to enter gardening with skills development.


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