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15.04.21 Brighton


Having been open for just a couple of weeks, we caught up with Liz Mouland from Plumpton College to hear all about One Garden and its rich history. Boasting 9 contemporary show gardens, a seasonal kitchen using the produce grown in the garden and with an eye to hold the best in Brighton events, One Garden is a really exciting addition to our city and community.

Read on to find out more about how One Garden came to be, why it’s so important to maintain local habitats and why a career in horticulture might be for you.

One Garden

Hey, One Garden! We’re so excited to visit – can you tell us a bit about what we can expect when we come?

Hi PLATF9RM! This has been a project five years in the making from funding to finish-line so it’s been amazing to watch its transformation.

One Garden Brighton is a secret revealed. A walled garden within Stanmer Park, rediscovered, reinvented, and opened to the public for the first time in its 300 year history. Rooted in the past, it focuses on the inspiration for the future, showcasing the very best in Horticulture. It’s a place for the whole community, with different things to discover every day.

Where did the idea for One Garden begin?

It’s a collaboration between many different partners within Stanmer Park. One Garden Brighton is part of a wider award of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore around 20 acres of Stanmer Park. The funding will make the park more accessible to the local community and will encourage more people to get out and explore the nature they have on their doorstep.

One Garden Brighton is proudly presented and managed by Plumpton College. The college’s Horticultural Centre of Excellence in Training and Education has been redeveloped and placed within the walls of the garden. Our students now have a high-quality destination garden at their fingertips to design, maintain and work within as part of their studies. From one-day workshops through to professional qualifications, there’s something for everyone.

How has it been getting the space ready during the pandemic?

Like many other businesses, we have felt the impact of the pandemic. The project was delayed from opening in 2020, and, even if we could have opened between lockdowns, many of our suppliers had delays and so it wouldn’t have been possible.

We’ve always been a small team with an incredible army of volunteers from students through to those in the local community. But it was not possible to safely allow them to all be in the garden at the time. However, without them, the garden would not be looking as stunning as it does today.

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the location of One Garden?

Records go back as far as the Neolithic period showing habitation in the area. But it was in 1713 that the Pelham family purchased the Estate. Shortly after they employed architect Nicholas Dubois to design the manor house, ornamental gardens and walled garden.

Throughout the 19th century, the Estate was maintained, enlarged and the gardens were modified. When World War II came around, the Estate was requisitioned by the Canadian tank regiment and used as a firing range. After the war, the Brighton Corporation bought the Estate and it was opened to the public in the early 50s.

Since then, the council utilised the walled garden as a growing nursery for city parks. We’re delighted to restore it to its former glory and revive it creatively and with a hub of activity!

What was it like to work with the Eden Project architect, Dominic Cole?

Dominic has such vision. It was great to understand his ideas for the space and watch those concepts develop under our Head of Grounds and Gardens Alex Waterfield and Senior Gardner Peter Wood.

The gardens celebrate the heritage of a traditional Victorian walled garden which would have also served as a productive kitchen garden with fruit trees, fruits and vegetables growing and the wider Estate.

They also celebrate innovation within horticulture. There are 9 contemporary show gardens designed for typical, often difficult urban conditions and smaller spaces to inspire visitors. We want to generate ideas for people to take home.

Why was it important to ensure that the garden takes biodiversity & climate change into consideration?

It’s so important for so many reasons! It’s central to Plumpton College’s strategic aims, having signed up to The Sustainability Roadmap and we aim to be carbon negative by 2025. Our ecological strategy ensures our Estate is managed with the environment at its heart.

Both the college and One Garden Brighton sit within the Grade II listed South Downs National Park, designated as an area of outstanding beauty. It’s our job to protect and maintain these spaces for all to enjoy, and to share and educate our visitors about how to continue to take care of outdoor spaces and the habitats they provide.

You’ll find many examples on your visit on how we manage the gardens, including our water use and green power. Many excess building materials from the project have been reused across the space, our compost is peat-free and all plant pots can be recycled at home.

One Market, our retail space, supports and works with small, local suppliers from in and around Brighton. We keep our food miles to an absolute minimum and partner with brands who share our values.

What is your favourite part of the gardens?

I just love the wall itself. It tells so many stories of the past, with its changing colours and textures – I find a new interesting corner to explore each day. It generates so much heat you can bask with your back to it. It’s just so peaceful listening to the birds, you wouldn’t believe you’re still within BN1.

What do you see for the gardens, long-term? What will its impact be?

Long-term I hope it’s a vibrant space with something different to enjoy every day. I don’t want people to visit only once, I want them to return because we surprise and delight every time they come! I hope we can connect with local people, give everyone something to learn when they visit and just show them what an exciting and progressive career horticulture is.

The sector is booming but businesses are struggling to find skilled people to work within the industry. I think people have a misconception about careers available and the type of role. I hope we can showcase how horticulture is at the forefront of conceptual design and robotics technology amongst others. Visit and experience the talent of our students who come from so many different backgrounds.