Hastings gardener receives Royal Horticultural Society’s top honour

Fergus Garrett with Roy Lancaster SUS-191005-113335001
Fergus Garrett with Roy Lancaster SUS-191005-113335001

A Hastings Old Town resident has received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) – the society’s highest accolade for British horticulturists.

Fergus Garrett is head gardener and chief executive at Great Dixter, in Northiam.

He was appointed as head gardener in 1992 and worked alongside Christopher Lloyd until his death in 2006. As well as writing, lecturing extensively across the world and serving on RHS committees, Fergus continues to build on his work at Great Dixter and the legacy of Christopher Lloyd, whose special garden is known for its vibrant and experimental nature.

Great Dixter has long been a place of pilgrimage for many, who find inspiration from this highly artistic and individual garden. But it is also now a place where young horticulturists come to receive the highest standards of training, working under the tutelage of Fergus and his team, in order to produce the head gardeners of the future.

It was for his contribution as a plantsman, gardener, as well as an educationalist that Fergus was presented with the award by Sir Nicholas Bacon, RHS president, on April 8, 2019. Christopher Lloyd received the VMH in 1979.

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Fergus’ recent work involves new ways of thinking about biodiversity and the environment within a garden like Great Dixter, which can then be mimicked in other gardens, but also in villages, towns and cities. The current biodiversity audit at Great Dixter undertaken by a group of specialists shows how an ornamental garden can have a richness of wildlife within its displays, therefore bringing the worlds of ecology and horticulture together.

Great Dixter is open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays, from April to the end of October.

Fergus was born in Brighton and grew up in Istanbul before returning to school in Brighton. He trained in horticulture at Wye College, London University and was made a Royal Horticultural Society Associate of

Honour in 2008. He was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal for outstanding contribution to the practise of horticulture in 2015.

The VMH was established in 1897, with the assent of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, to enable the RHS Council to honour British horticulturists whom it considers deserving.

Only 63 medals may be held at any one time in recognition of the duration in years of Queen Victoria’s reign.