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Garden Museum Literary Festival 2024

We are delighted to announce that the 2024 Garden Museum Literary Festival will be held at Sezincote House, Gloucestershire.

Our tenth Literary Festival will take place at Sezincote House, Gloucestershire, kindly hosted by Edward and Camilla Peake. The festival will include talks by some of the UK’s most influential and award-winning garden designers and authors, as well as opportunities to explore the magnificent historic gardens and house at Sezincote.

This boutique annual festival is Britain’s only traveling Literary Festival, with previous hosts including Parham House (2023), Chatsworth House (2022), Helmingham Hall (2021), and Houghton Hall (2019). Each venue provides a space over two summer days for us to celebrate the best in garden writing and to share what inspires us in gardens.

Saturday

William Dalrymple and Edward Peake on Mughal Gardens
Larisa Brown, Defence Editor at the Times on The Gardener of Lashkar Gah, interviewed by Tania Compton
Catherine Horwood and Mary Ann Prior on Two Women in Search of India: Penelope Hobhouse and Constance Villiers-Stuart
The Land Gardeners with Non Morris on Soil To Table
David Wheeler with Matt Collins on Looking Back at Hortus
Lalage Snow on My Family and Other Seedlings
Rajat Jindal on Putting Down Roots
Sean Pritchard
Polly Nicholson on The Tulip Garden
Rachel de Thame on Planting for Pollinators
Luke Edward Hall, Duncan Campbell and Elizabeth Tyler on Making Our Garden

Sunday

Nicky Haslam
Jinny Blom
 interviewed by Christopher Woodward on What Makes A Garden
Allan Jones and Deirdre Morrow with James Alexander Sinclair on Now – and Then
Paul Bangay on A Life In Garden Design with special interviewer India Hicks
Rupert Goldby on Education of a Gardener
Shane Connolly on Flowers in India
Marian Boswell in discussion with Victoria Valentine
Candy Connolly on Borrowed Culture And Finding Roots
Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith

About Sezincote House & Gardens

Sezincote is perhaps the classic example of the “Picturesque” style of garden design. The garden was designed around 1814 by Thomas Daniell, the painter of Indian scenery, for the nabob Charles Cockerell, to surround his Mughal palace in Gloucestershire, which Daniell had helped to design in the Indian style. The garden was designed to resemble the romantic landscapes which surround the ruined temples and palaces in Daniell’s paintings: Sezincote is quite literally one of Daniell’s paintings of India, brought to life so that Cockerell and his guests could inhabit it.

The design team (which included Humphry Repton) responded to the situation – a ravine running down an eastward-facing hillside with a freshwater spring at the highest point – in a distinctively Hindu religious idiom. The springwater issues from a Shiva lingam fountain, flowing out through a yoni-shaped pool to feed the seven descending pools of the Thornery. The Indian Bridge carries the driveway over the stream, which below flows between the stepping stones and stone bench of a Hindu pavilion deliberately reminiscent of the Caves of Elephanta. A temple to Surya, God of the Sun, stands at the top of the garden, facing the sunrise.

In the 1950s and 60s, the garden was revived by Graham Stuart Thomas, who added the Mughal charbagh or Paradise Garden with its avenues of irish yews masquerading as cypresses, and the canals leading up to and reflecting the southern elevation of the house. Down the Thornery, beside pools and stream Lady Kleinwort and Graham Thomas created the serpentine-edged borders, planted with a mosaic of large groups of the perennial plants he favoured: Hosta, Astilbe, Rodgersia, Peltiphyllum peltatum. More recent additions are the wildflower meadow with a curving avenue of Persian quinces, and the calligraphic fragments of Sufi poetry displayed on the steps of the Paradise Garden.

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Image: Sezincote House, photo (c) Julian Civiero