A Head Gardener’s Story




Head Gardener Damian Mitchell tells the story behind the ‘America’s Wild’ show garden



The Garden and Estates team have just got back from the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, helping firstly to create the garden called ‘America’s Wild’ with the team at Inspired Earth Design, and then subsequently dismantling it after the festival finished on Sunday 9th July.

The garden was awarded a Gold medal, Best in Show and Best Construction!

But how did it all come about?

Back on 7th December 2022, I got forwarded an email from Jan English (Collections and Public Engagement Director) titled IN CONFIDENCE – Show garden legacy – Hampton Court.

This absolutely piqued my interest as I knew that it’s very important that show gardens have a donor garden where the plants can be used. However, before I could get too excited, we needed to see the garden plans and planting designs. Our Oehme, van Sweden (OVS) planting design at the Museum is very prescriptive as to the varieties and cultivars used, and this should be followed as closely as possible.

Happily, many of the plants in the show garden matched our plans. As quite a number of the plants in our garden have been lost over the years, this was a chance to put some key varieties back, so we felt we could progress.

After a lot of emails, discussions and site visits, both the American Museum and the American Embassy in London were going to be the ‘donor gardens’ for the hundreds of plants and trees featured in the award-winning ‘America’s Wild’ show garden.

We were so excited we wanted to tell everyone, but we had to be patient until everything could be released officially. We now have a great relationship with the designers, we have made some really good contacts in other gardens and, very importantly, we have a lot of plants that we can use to enhance our garden here at the Museum.

What happens next?

During autumn and winter 2023, we have to prepare the ground for the plants, ensuring they are in the correct place as per the OVS design. We also have seven beautiful mature trees, native to America, which will be joining our other specimen trees in the Arboretum, including a beautiful Liquidambar styraciflua which is one of my personal favourite trees.

A massive, heartfelt thank you to everyone involved.

Head Gardener at the American Museum & Gardens





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