Meet the gardeners at Waterperry

Established by Beatrix Havergal, meet the team that manage the Oxfordshire based Waterperry Gardens.

credit © Jacqui Hurst

Waterperry Gardens was home to Beatrix Havergal’s School of Horticulture for women, from 1932 to 1971. The heritage of Havergal’s horticultural teachings remain core to Waterperry and her horticultural virtuosity is still evident throughout the garden – in particular, in the herbaceous border. The 8o+ year old herbaceous border remains an object of admiration to visitors by virtue of the gardeners’ continuing faithfulness to its original conception.

Over the years, Waterperry gardens has developed from school training gardens with strong emphasis on food production to the impressive 20 acres of ornamental landscape seen today. What has never changed is the ethos of the place, founded on the teaching of horticulture and dissemination of valuable gardening advice to whomever requires it.

The Waterperry team, many career-changers, have – in the true spirit of Havergal, learned their new vocation whilst working in the gardens. They prune the orchards planted by Havergal and her team, work in the greenhouses (with the accoutrements) constructed for the school, care for the historic hedges, trees and plants, and work the soil that laid the foundations of horticultural knowledge for so many before them. Even, the editor of this news platform was fortunate enough to have completed all the RHS courses in this magical place.

Photographed by award-winning photographer and frequent visitor, Jacqui Hurst from left to right – meet Waterperry’s Gardeners:

  • The new recruit, Kim Helsby is now in her second year of seasonal work in the gardens. Her patience and calmness in all situations makes her a great anchor for the team
  • Pat Havers, has been Head Gardener for over a decade. Havers worked and trained in the gardens at Waterperry since the 1990’s and learned her craft from the great women horticulturalists that passed through the garden’s gates – most notably, the late Mary Spiller. Waterperry’s horticulture Manager from 1975 until 1990, Spiller was a renowned horticulturist and teacher, who devoted her life to the dissemination of successful horticulture. Following in the footsteps of the horticultural greats, Havers devotedly steers the team and works to pass her talents and skills, including to members of the public on their visits.
  • Allison Stanney has been a key member of the gardens team for 7 years. Armed with substantial plant and horticultural knowledge, Stanney not only keeps the teams motivated but the gardens are in the best possible hands.
  • Ex-builder, Kevin Joseph has been at Waterperry for 8 years and is the team’s spirit level. Joseph keeps the garden’s historic Yew hedges and path edges sharp, all vital in the preservation of the herbaceous borders.

According to Havers, there are two more seasonal gardeners and an apprentice who work alongside the core team for four months of the year.

“This is the best team I have ever had”, she said proudly.