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The View From Federal Twist | In-conversation with James Golden and Dan Pearson

Home Gardens: why we make them, what they are for and why we think they are important.

Christopher Lloyd and Great Dixter, Vita Sackville-West and Sissinghurst – some gardens are inextricably linked with the people who made them and lived in them day to day but what makes a home garden and is it different to any other garden?

In one sense, of course it is because a home garden is where we have chosen to live and be, it allows us to experiment freely and watch minute changes of light, weather and season. But what are our own gardens for, do they need to have a purpose, do they change our relationship with the land and perhaps even change us?

Join us for a conversation with James Golden, author of a newly published book about the making of his garden in western New Jersey, Federal Twist, which Monty Don said made him “rethink what a garden can be and do” and award-winning garden designer Dan Pearson, who reflects on the making of Hillside Gardens in Somerset in the context of his other international design projects.


  • James Golden

    James Golden

    James Golden, born and raised in Mississippi, though resident in New York City for most of his adult life, worked in business. But he never forgot happy memories of the plants that fascinated him in childhood or his southern upbringing—playing on the roof of a backyard shed amid the foliage of Chinaberry trees, he was literally engulfed in the large, delicate panicles of their pale lilac flowers, or on a visit to a rural relative, being amazed on seeing for the first time the shiny purple berries of American beautybush, though no one could tell him its name. Though he had many such intense childhood memories of plants, he never thought to act on that interest. Nearing retirement and embarking on what he happily calls la vita nuova, he made a decision to follow that long-buried urge toward the natural world and he moved to a property in western New Jersey to make a garden. Fifteen years on, James is a celebrated garden-maker and thinker whose garden, Federal Twist, has featured in numerous publications, as well as in his notable blog, View from Federal Twist. After visiting Federal Twist in 2019 for the BBC Gardener's World series American Gardens, Monty Don wrote in his book on the series, ‘Of all the people I spoke to in hundreds of conversations right across America, James was the wisest and most gifted gardener.’

  • Dan Pearson

    Dan Pearson

    (c) Huw Morgan

    Dan Pearson trained at the RHS Gardens, Wisley and at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Two years spent working at the botanic gardens of Jerusalem and Edinburgh gave him an innate understanding of plant ecology which along with an appreciation for natural landscapes inspires his garden design today. His international work for public and private clients is widely celebrated and he has received numerous accolades including Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Designer for Industry in 2012, and Society of Garden Designers awards. He has designed five award-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens including Best in Show in 2015, writes a weekly gardening journal DIGDELVE and lectures widely. His most recent book is 'Tokachi Millennium Forest: Pioneering a new way of gardening with nature'