Chatsworth Date For Broomfield Hall Garden Volunteers

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.

“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.”

The 47m long herbaceous border at Broomfield Hall has been a particular passion for one of the volunteers Steve O’Gorman (64) from Chaddesden who has been lovingly restoring and redesigning it over the past two years.

He said: “l was looking for an opportunity to use the gardening experience I had and I got talking to Samantha who told me about the plans for the gardens.

“I loved the idea of being involved from the beginning of bringing the historic gardens back to life and it has been wonderful to have something that I have been able to put my own stamp on under Samantha’s guidance.

“I get great pleasure from working outside with nature and watching the seasons, whilst it can be physically tiring some days, it is emotionally fulfilling.

“I am so proud to be part of this project and to have the opportunity to be able to show it to a much wider audience at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.”

Fellow volunteer Janet Morrison (57) from Wirksworth added that she hoped the show would encourage more volunteers to get involved at Broomfield Hall.

“I love working in Broomfield’s wonderful garden and being part of the team there.  All our individual efforts contribute to something much bigger. It has helped me add to my horticultural knowledge, and it’s a great way of making new friends.”

For more information on volunteering opportunities, please email and for details of full and part time courses starting at Derby College this September, visit or telephone 0800 028 0289.

For more information on volunteering opportunities, please email and for details of full and part time courses starting at Derby College this September, visit or telephone 0800 028 0289.

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