Jun 16, 2008

Inner Temple

Gardener to Gardener
Name: Andrea Brunsendorf, Head Gardener at Inner Temple

Horticultural background:
-A three year traditional German apprenticeship in Ornamental Horticulture

-One year internship at the National Botanical Institute in South Africa, studying and working with South African flora in Harold Porter Botanic’s, Karoo Desert Botanic’s and Kirstenbosch

-Working as propagator for Europe’s’ oldest cacti and succulent nursery in Germany

-A three month internship at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, studying more succulents and cacti

-Joined the Longwood International Gardener Programme for a year

-Returned to RBG Kew to do the three year Kew Diploma

-Graduated from the Kew Diploma and continued to study for a Masters in Nature Conservation at University College London

-& financed myself to be being a freelancing gardener in London and Northern France.

Where do you work? Explain the significance of Inner Temple and it’s location. Inner Temple Garden in Central London, its location is significant because it provides a 3 acre green space in Central London, (I prefer the term Garden actually) for the residents of the Temple, the surrounding office workers and a function space to gain revenue for the Inner Temple

Who uses it and what is it used for?

· Residents
· Residential Dogs
· Office workers from the surrounding Barrister Chambers and other large offices
· The occasional tourist
· Inner Temple Catering Team to hold large functions

(this is Boris, Andreas dog whose official title is Executive pigeon chaser.)

What do you consider to be the strong points of Inner Temple? What are you most proud of?
Its spaciousness and its magnificent tree collection. What I am most proud of is the transformation from being a neglected and uninspiring garden to a state that someone seems to care about the Garden.

You have some special trees and tree collections at Inner Temple, could you share what these are?

Magnificent Indian bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides)and Willow-leaved magnolia(Magnolia salicifolia), both are about 250 years old. Good specimen of Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) and Japanese Walnut (Juglans ailantifolia).

(Echium on the High Border)

What is the most enjoyable aspect of working in a micro climate?

I can be braver and grow plants that are not really frost tender.

What would you consider to be a disadvantage of a micro climate?

My roses don’t reach dormancy until February, which makes pruning them a bit more challenging. Sometimes plants go over so quickly because it is so warm along my south facing borders.

Even though the garden at Inner Temple is private, you do open it up for the public at certain times. When is this open for the public and for how long?
Usually open from Monday to Friday from 12.30 to 15.00

How does the public affect your way of thinking about the garden? A private garden is one thing but letting the public enjoy it as well, as they would a park, must create two different ways of seeing the garden. What are your observations on this?

I have some quite strong thoughts on this … if the public treats the Garden as a public park, I remind them that it is a private garden and that they should feel honoured to be a guest of the Inner Temple and should behave like one when using the Garden. You know, if I wanted to work in a public park with issues such as ignorance, litter and vandalism, I would have joined a local municipality down the road, but I have problems in tolerating careless and disrespectful behaviour.
What is it like to be an urban gardener and can you elaborate?

You have a different set of circumstances than other gardeners, such as finding nurseries to get plants and other things that you might not have anticipated You have a different set of circumstances than other gardeners, such as finding nurseries to get plants and other things that you might not have anticipated. Space is a real problem, not being able to compost my own garden waste, storing large quantities of mulch and not being able to have space for stock beds, where we could propagate plants needed for the Garden. Being in the centre of London some horticultural suppliers and a few nurseries won't deliver to me.

What other gardens or gardeners are you enjoying or are inspired by?

Beth Chatto Gardens, Dorothy Clive Garden, Great Dixter, Kerdalo, Kirstenbosch, Lost Garden of Heligan, Sissinghurst and RBG Kew, and conversation with my gardening friends.

What as a gardener inspires you?

I probably can answers the question better if I tell you what I find not inspiring in a Garden…if it is pretentious, too contrived or just trying to look like another Chelsea Flower Show Garden to impress friends and neighbours. I like gardens where passion, genuine people and interesting personalities are involved.

What concerns you as a gardener?

The current quality of our Gardeners concerns me. I am concerned about the National curriculum for gaining horticultural qualifications in this country. It seems to miss out that Horticulture is a ‘practical science’ and that you need a wide range of experience as well as basic horticultural classroom-knowledge.

What are your plans for the future of the Inner Temple? · To put the Garden on the map of interesting gardens to visit in London and restore it to its old glory with a fresh approach.

Can you leave us with a horticultural tip?

· Stake early and don’t wait until the plants looks like it could blow over with the next wind. I learned that bitter lesson last year with my cardoons.

Thanks Andrea, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. www.innertemple.org.uk/garden/index.html