Toby’s Garden Festival at Bowood


Update on 6 June 2016 – the event has now been cancelled.

In response to the Toby Buckland Garden Festival’s decision to cancel its upcoming two day event at Wiltshire’s Bowood House and Gardens on 4 & 5 June, Lord Lansdowne said: “We are deeply distressed to learn the news of the Toby Buckland Garden Festival’s decision to cancel as Bowood is such a respected centre of garden excellence.

“We know that many people will be extremely disappointed and we are currently looking at the possibility of working with gardening groups and clubs who were planning to attend the event to see how we can accommodate them on garden tours during the season.”

To reschedule, garden tour organisers are advised to e-mail

Toby Buckland said: “Nationally and locally, garden events have proliferated in an already congested early Summer season. This has impacted on the potential of our Wiltshire event and put its long term prospects in jeopardy. Post-Chelsea combined with the busiest time of year for the smaller nurseries, we seek to promote, together with clashing of other events nearby that weekend has resulted in a much reduced number of exhibitors able to attend our festival.

We had put in a superb speaker programme, engaged local musicians and sought out fine local food producers as is usual with our successful formula, but without enough exhibitors our many supporters and followers would not get what they have come to expect from our gardening festivals. We are very sad to announce this news.”

All pre ticket sales will be refunded in full. Please contact Alan Lewis at for queries and refunds.



There is much to celebrate in 2016 as Visit England has designated it the ‘Year of the English Garden.’ This country is famous for the glorious romanticism of its gardens, both great and small, and this has inspired us to celebrate different aspects of the theme at Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival. There can be no more romantic setting than Bowood House and Gardens and Toby has again chosen this as the ideal location for his Wiltshire Summer Garden revels.

The Festival was first held at Bowood in 2015.

Toby Buckland will be joined by:

Charlie Dimmock – one of Britain’s best-known and loved gardeners, specialising in water features.

Cleve West – twice winner of the coveted Best in Show award at the Chelsea Flower Show, Cleve also runs an award-winning garden design studio in Hampton Wick, South-West London.

Lord Lansdowne – who has shared his Bowood home and gardens with the public for the last 40 years.

Professor Tom Williamson – landscape historian studying all aspects of the English landscape, professor at the University of East Anglia and an authority on the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’, the tercentenary of whose birth is also celebrated this year. His book co-written with David Brown “Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men: Landscape revolution in eighteenth-century England,” is published this year.

Roy Lancaster CBE – a giant in the garden world, eminent plant explorer and tree expert.

Jim Buttress – respected RHS Judge and rowdy raconteur.

Charlie Dimmock, Queen of Water Features whose work on the BBC television show ‘Ground Force’ gave inspirational and achievable ideas to a generation of new gardeners will be at the festival on Sunday. Water is an essential part of any aspiring romantic English garden and Bowood boasts a sinuous lake and cascade, adding to its parkland’s allure. Grand water features were very complicated to build, needing huge header tanks to provide water pressure for fountains and cascades, sometimes even requiring horses and cattle to provide power. But now, everyone can include a water feature in their gardens from a bubbling bowl or trickling lions head to a fully stocked pond. Show gardens often include water features in their designs because water contributes movement, wind blowing across its surface creating a sparkly light effect, pretty reflections and even sound. “Luckily,” suggests Charlie, “we can enjoy similar effects in our own gardens as a simple electric pump can give everyone a water feature of any size.” Charlie will be talking about how to achieve the perfect water feature, bringing along everything needed including some beautiful marginal and water plants.

You bring along your own imagination.

Toby Buckland will be continuing the romantic theme in his talks at the festival, unearthing the hidden history of the Cottage Garden and explaining both how to create the look – even in contemporary settings, as well as predicting what the future might hold for this most popular of garden styles. “Bowood sits in the heart of ‘Cottage Garden’ country,” says Toby, “a region that includes the Cotswolds and the rolling hills of the West, where cranesbills spill from borders and roses ramble and brighten the brickwork. It’s a style redolent of romance and seemly as old as a thatched cottages in a picture- postcard English village, although looks can be deceiving… I’ll be discussing how to combine the key aspects of the style to create a cottage garden that both practical and beautiful.”

Cleve West’s recent design for the award-winning Horatio’s Garden, at the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust in Salisbury has shown just how positive an effect gardens can have on both physical and spiritual well-being. He will be discussing his latest projects and the healing value of gardens and allotments on Saturday 4th June.

The tercentenary of ‘Capability’ Brown’s birth is also commemorated this year and Toby’s Garden Festival is the only event of its kind to be held in one of the most important 18th Century ‘Capability’ designed parks. Professor Tom Williamson, a landscape historian and specialist on parks and gardens of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the perfect choice to give a fascinating talk on this most influential of designers whose work’s legacy is today still considered to be the quintessential English landscape.

“Bowood is a very important park as it was one of the first to display Capability Brown’s fully developed flowering grand style,” says Professor Williamson, “when he was embracing a fully naturalistic approach and rejecting formality and straight lines.”

After five years work at a cost of £4, 300 (over three-quarters of a million pounds today), he’d created the lake, enlarging an existing pond by damming two streams, built a ha-ha, sown acres of grass, constructed winding roads and planted all the trees to create the Great Plantation. Tom Williamson believes that “At Bowood, Lancelot Brown has created one of the most beautiful parklands in England.”

Lord Lansdowne is speaking at the festival on Saturday about his stunning Woodland Garden at Bowood – an oasis of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, covering over 60 acres, located two miles from the House and Gardens on the Bowood estate and with its own dedicated entrance.

“What also makes this garden particularly special is the undulating topography, being able to look across valleys onto a sea of blooms,” says Lord Lansdowne. “I had always assumed they had been introduced by my Great Grandfather on his return, as Viceroy, from India in 1894. He was a passionate gardener. He would have seen groves of spectacular species, whilst travelling through the Himalayas.” However, in 2006 several dozen hybrids thought to be extinct were discovered and a search of the archive proved that the original planting was fifty years earlier than thought. “And why do these plants do so well in this corner of Wiltshire? There is a seam of green sand running fromPoole to the Wash along the southern boundary of the estate. It is acidic and the perfect soil for ericaceous plants.” Learn more from Lord Lansdowne about the history, plants and origins of his Woodland Garden at the festival.

Roy Lancaster CBE has travelled the world widely on plant finding expeditions. He cannot look at a plant simply as a beautiful object – for him it is an opening to discuss where the plant grows in the wild, how it came to be collected, by whom and when, and how it is cultivated. He is also a foremost authority on trees and not to be missed.

Back by popular demand Jim Buttress: raconteur, RHS judge and winner of the Queen Victoria Medal and ex-Superintendent of the Royal Parks. Jim will be joining us on both days of the Festival to give entertaining talks and contribute his vast knowledge as a member of the Q and A sessions.

Our horticultural hosts will be joined by many other handpicked experts, giving us the benefit of their great wisdom, from roses to raspberries. The two-day gardening festival will highlight horticulture throughout the Wiltshire and the Cotswolds, with an un- paralleled choice of specialist nurseries, all dedicated to growing excellent plants as well as providing you with sound advice. Come and meet them in a party atmosphere with live music, children’s activities, local craft, food and drink.

Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June 10am-5pm

Ticket costs: Adults £10 in advance £12.50 on the door, children under 16 free. Free parking.

Group discounts are available for groups of 12 and over.

Main Speakers Tent:

Saturday: Toby Buckland, Cleve West, Lord Lansdowne, Jim Buttress

Sunday: Toby Buckland, Charlie Dimmock , Roy Lancaster CBE, Professor Tom Williamson, Jim Buttress.

Throughout the Festival visitors can sign up for specially-arranged guided tours of the Lansdownes’ private Walled Garden which will offer the perfect opportunity to discover this four-acre haven made up of four distinct one acre squares comprising formal borders, a picking garden, glass houses and a working kitchen garden packed with fruit and vegetables. Tickets to join the 40-minute tours are priced at £8 person booked in advance, commencing every hour from 10am to 4pm


Cleve West to attend Toby’s Garden Festival 2016

Photos of Toby’s Garden Festival 2015