Derby College head gardener Samantha Harvey

A group of 35 volunteers who help to restore and maintain the historic gardens at Derby College’s Broomfield Hall campus are busy creating an exhibit, designed by head gardener Samantha Harvey, for the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in June.

The volunteers have been working alongside Broomfield Hall’s Samantha Harvey to restore and develop the Victorian gardens to their former glory with increasing the collection of plants, shrubs and semi mature trees.

They have entered the long border competition at RHS Chatsworth and are currently growing and caring for the plants ready for the show which runs from June 6 to 10.

Their exhibit, entitled ‘Rhythm of Colour’ is inspired by the long border at Broomfield Hall Gardens which was one of the first projects to be developed under the garden transformation and restoration.

It is influenced by renowned Edwardian horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll’s ‘no nonsense’ philosophy of creating natural planting effects using form and texture and seeing the value of every day plants.

Derby College head gardener Samantha Harvey said: “It is an incredible honour to be invited to exhibit at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show and we are all very excited about the prospect of being part of this highly prestigious event.

“Our border is designed to celebrate the history and beauty of Broomfield Hall Gardens at Derby College and champion the work of our amazing volunteers.

“We are using plants from the College grounds with texture to reflect light and a rainbow of colours to create rhythm to draw the viewer along the border. Our colour choice repeats hot to cold to underline the feeling of movement.”

The gardens at Broomfield Hall were created when the original hall was built in 1873 by industrialist Charles Schwind.

They still retain the Victorian layout and work is progressing to improve these further with several developments including contemporary herbaceous planting, a subtropical area, a winter garden and a new rose garden.

Miss Harvey is a former student at Derby College who then trained at the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens in London followed by seven years managing a garden in Warwickshire before returning to Broomfield Hall three years ago as the head gardener.

She explained that whilst the College Horticulture students work in the grounds as part of their study programmes to gain valuable work experience for their future careers. The volunteers bring knowledge, different skills and extra enthusiasm to help us push on with the bigger restoration and development projects.

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“As one of the country's leading horticultural colleges, we aim to inspire passion through our teaching and share our knowledge and expertise with the public by involving them and nurturing their skills through our volunteer scheme.

“Our volunteers each have the unique opportunity to help curate and maintain certain areas of the gardens or take ownership of certain projects, our overall aim is to establish the gardens as a notable visitor attraction in the area by becoming an RHS partner garden.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of some of our former students and local gardeners who regularly come to Broomfield to join the work parties but we really could do with more.”

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