A YEAR IN A COBHAM GARDEN – Tues 14th Jan 2020

The event: A YEAR IN A COBHAM GARDEN with Nigel Gibson 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When:   Tuesday 14th January 2020 at 7.30pm 

Nigel Gibson has worked in Horticulture for the last 42 years. He began working for local authorities, and then became a Landscaper working on private gardens. During the 42 years Nigel has worked in Interior and Exterior Landscaping (both Industrial and private gardens), Industrial and Private Garden Design and the Hardy nursery stock industry.

He was part of a company that won the overall top prize and a RHS Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show 1983 (with John Vellam Gardens), and has also worked on many other show gardens at Hampton Court (Courtyard Garden Design and Scenic Design Company). Nigel also helped design and build a garden at the San Francisco Garden Show 1997(Andy Hibben Gardens-Gardens with an English Accent), which won joint top prize. He has had two articles published in The Garden Design Journal on ‘Grasses’ and ‘Hemerocallis’.

Nigel is Sales Executive and Plantsman at Provender Nurseries which is an established, independent, wholesale, trade only supplier of quality plants, soils and landscaping kit serving trade professionals throughout Kent, London, the South East and further afield. In March 2017 the Provender Nurseries team were over the moon when Nigel received an RHS Long Service Medal for 40 years of service to Horticulture.

Nigel lives in Kent, with his wife Sheilagh, their three dogs Molly, Osi and Masie and Sapphie, Ollie and Nellie, the cats.


Nigel’s visit coincided with the height of Storm Brendan. Despite the dreadful weather a good number of members turned out to welcome him after a difficult journey from Cobham, which had involved closed roads, retracing steps and having to stop to remove a fallen branch. We were very relieved when he made it to the Vestry Hall.

The garden in question belongs to a National Trust cottage, which was completely overgrown when Nigel and his wife took it over. Near the top of the Downs, it has a shallow layer of soil over chalk and is dry and quite windy. The year in question was 2010 which started with heavy snow, and from then on we were taken through the year with photographs of plants for all seasons. Nigel is clearly an expert plantsman with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Reassuringly this is tempered by a relaxed attitude towards weeds, and his talk was a very personal look at the beauty, quirks and the   requirements of the plants he grows. Many old favourites were there, as murmurs of agreement from the audience  attested: hellebores, euphorbias, iris, tulips, alliums, hardy geraniums, roses, as well as shrubs , grasses and climbers to name but a few.  Particularly good varieties were highlighted, but equally Nigel was frank about his failures, and plants to be avoided: for example he was glad when the winter of 2010 killed off his phormium, but it was a devil to dig out.  

The evening was an intimate look at a well loved garden, which we  could all identify with, and learn from.