An art project about Hadspen Garden: ‘Flowers, where is the garden’

Astrantia plant label from Hadspen

For a number of years, I was interested in making something in response to Nori and Sandra Pope’s Hadspen Garden near Castle Cary in Somerset, which closed to the public in 2005.

Hadspen had been gardened by the Popes for nearly 20 years, with a strong use of colour, and plants from all over the world. The Popes built upon the plant breeding and propagating begun by Eric Smith. Plantswoman Penelope Hobhouse restored the garden at Hadspen after she moved there in 1968, and then went on to garden at Tintinhull. Hadspen was in the Hobhouse family for over two centuries until it was sold in June 2013.

I went to the garden many times while the Popes were at Hadspen. I had a strong feeling there. Something golden. That garden was inside my mind and my hands when I made my own gardens.

In 2005, the Popes retired and returned to Canada, and the garden was closed for a redesign project. I’d been away and found out on my return. There was sadness.   I’ve drawn together some contexts and mapped an incomplete history of the garden here.   The recent past of Hadspen is complex, contentious, opinionated – and fascinating in relation to what horticulture means to people.

I had many plants from Hadspen. I divided plants for my friends, for other gardens, and grew new generations from seed, like Cerinthe (Honeywort).  I had all the plant labels in the ground.   Hadspen produced many of its own cultivars including Astrantia ‘Hadspen Blood’ and Dicentra spectabilis ‘Goldheart’. 

In 2013 I was invited to be part of the Abundance Garden Trail for Somerset Art Weeks Festival.  I wanted to make something about Hadspen, as a garden that still resonates yet is unvisitable.    The garden remains in memory, photograph, trace, writing and publication, and perhaps most significantly, through the plants and cultivars that gardeners from Somerset (and from much further afield) acquired from Hadspen to plant in their own gardens.  In March 2013, I distributed a ‘call out’ to gardeners who still had ‘Hadspen’ plants, to see how the garden had dispersed and seeded, where Hadspen still grew in people and through fingers.  These responses accumulated into the printwork accompanying the video.

‘Flowers, where is the garden’ – a screen based and print work, commissioned by Somerset Art Works in partnership with the National Garden Scheme, exhibited at Tintinhull Manor Gardens September 21st – October 6th 2013.

Go here to read the Abundance blog, with information about the other artists, the gardens and the making processes.

Writing on making maps the process of making the project ‘Flowers, where is the garden’ which has 2 pieces of work:

A print work: download the PDF (A3)

A moving image work: please select full screen, 720 HD.


  1. Pingback: Cerinthe |

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