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Gardeners’ World at The Hepworth Wakefield Garden

10 Oct 2023

In August, BBC Gardeners' World visited The Hepworth Wakefield Garden to film with Katy Merrington, The Hepworth Wakefield's Cultural Gardener. The short film will be broadcast as part of Gardeners' World on BBC2 on Friday 13 October at 8pm and will also be available on BBC iPlayer.

‘Gardeners’ World has been a Friday night staple for me since I was little and so I was excited when their team got in touch to say they’d like to come and film The Hepworth Wakefield Garden.

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden was designed by landscape architect and garden designer, Tom Stuart-Smith to have as much year-round interest as possible, so that as a living composition, you could come and see it every few weeks and there would always be something new to see. With the filming scheduled for the end of August, we felt it was a great time to shine a spotlight on the beauty of late summer.

This is a season that has perhaps traditionally been overlooked in British gardens, as it sits sandwiched between the boisterous colour of early summertime and the blaze that is autumn. Without planning there is potential for a garden to lack a bit of magic by this point. So, we were keen to share with Gardeners’ World, the way in which the planting here has been selected to keep on giving, with a palette of late-flowering perennials and fluffy grasses taking centre stage as we head towards autumn.

I was very happy when the Gardeners’ World team said that Errol Reuben Fernandes was going to be guest presenting our piece and that I would be showing him around. Errol is the Head of Horticulture at the Horniman Museum & Gardens in South London. Like The Hepworth, the Horniman is a recent winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year award. Errol and I both look after gardens that are free to enter and are valued green spaces for all the community to enjoy. It was a treat to be able to talk to him on camera about what it is like to care for this kind of public garden and to introduce Errol to some of our local volunteers, who play a big part in nurturing our urban oasis.

Errol and I discussed ways in which you can extend interest in your garden at home and how one way to do this, is to build a team of plants that are good multi-taskers. Hard working characters that are charming in different ways at different times of year. One such star is Euphorbia palustris, the marsh spurge, which is typically chosen for its zesty green tone in spring. However, it also stands centre stage in October when its leaves and stems become a fire of neon pink.

Another way in which interest can be extended is to work with a set colour palette and pass a colour from month to month – a bit like the relay race in the Olympics, where the baton is passed between the runners – you can do the same with plants. For example, in June, yellow comes into our planting with Phlomis russeliana and Achilleas, in July, Rudbeckia maxima picks up the baton and so it goes, right into autumn, with the wiry, yellow Coreopsis tripteris.

After a rainy season we were fortunate to have a dry day for filming. It was lovely to stand with Errol in the low afternoon sunshine and reflect on the dramatic transformation that this space has undergone in just four years – an unloved piece of waste ground, now a flower-filled garden for everyone to enjoy.’

— Katy Merrington, Cultural Gardener

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden