Elliott Beveridge on gardening with heritage and legacy in mind
An interview with Elliott Beveridge, an estate manager and head gardener at a historically important private estate who gardens with both heritage and legacy in mind. Portrait Justin Foulkes
Earliest garden memory I remember my parents’ pretty basic attempt at growing vegetables. I think it only lasted a season, but at the age of seven or eight, I was fascinated to discover that we could grow our own food and particularly excited by the meagre crop of carrots.
Horticultural heroes Plantswoman Beth Chatto and head gardeners Fergus Garrett and Tom Coward are all huge inspirations to me. I admire Fergus and Tom for their passion and commitment to projects at a single location, something I’ve tried to emulate in my own career. And Beth’s mantra, ‘right plant, right place’, constantly resonates with me.
Favourite landscape and garden that has influenced you Stourhead, Gravetye Manor, Oudolf Field at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, and Great Dixter all spring to mind. I have also spent time on the northwest coast of Ireland in Co Donegal. The empty beaches, endless sand dunes and huge array of wild flora on offer always blows me away, as does the wind.
Trial and error is key to learning.
Three worthwhile tips Don’t worry about things not working; trial and error is key to learning. Make lots of notes. I’m constantly jotting things down when I do things – what works, what doesn’t, and so on. And don’t always follow the rules; try different things – you might find that something works when you never expected it to.
Favourite ‘weed’ you’re happy to have in your garden I’m a huge fan of teasel: great structure, long season of interest and great for the birds in late autumn and winter.
Favourite planting style I do like prairie-style planting but equally love a shaded woodland understorey. Opening up long overgrown sections on the wider estate at Beaverbrook, where I used to work, led me to discover just how quickly plants that had been lost to an area can quickly re-establish given the right conditions.
There should be more female head gardeners than there are at present.
In what direction do you see horticulture heading in the next few years? I’ve been lucky enough to work with a great cross-section of people during my career, but the wider world of horticulture is still very male dominated. I see a slow change in this, but feel that there should be more female head gardeners than there are at present.
Your gardening legacy The planting of 10,000-plus native, deciduous whips in the Surrey Hills. I know that I will never see them at their best, but knowing that in 80-100 years there could be swathes of woodland that I sourced and planted is a very satisfying legacy to be able to leave.
Email Ebeveridge1@gmail.com Instagram @dinder_gardener