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Case Study - Patrick Swan: Holland House.




Holland House, near Pershore Worcestershire, was gifted to the Diocese of Worcester in the 1940’s. This very attractive thatched property has 16th century origins but was extensively enlarged at the turn of the 20th century, making it into a glorious Edwardian country manor house. It is now run by a charitable trust as a conference and retreat centre.


The gardens at Holland House largely date from the Edwardian period, with part of them attributed to Lutyens.  They play an important part in the life and function of the house; however the trustees felt that the full potential of the gardens was not being realised.  Maintenance standards had dropped and several key areas were lacklustre and in need of restoration.  The gardens were using resources but contributing little.


Horticultural consultant Patrick Swan was approached to advise them on the way forward with this.  Patrick’s recommendation was first of all for him to perform a detailed survey of the garden. Through this he was able to professionally assess the current status of the garden as regards maintenance, design and it’s functionality as part of the business at Holland House.  This he put together in a written report, which also set out and prioritised the remedial work that was necessary. As well as rectifying horticultural shortcomings this report also suggested ways in which the garden could be further used as a resource for the business, through better design and by the introduction of garden focused events.  


With this report in hand the trustees and warden of Holland House were now in a position to plan and budget for the future development of the garden.  Patrick was instructed to act as consultant Head Gardener, visiting the site once or twice a week to supervise the full time staff and put into action the recommendations of his plan.  Through staff training and with supervision, maintenance standards have now improved dramatically.  One of the key areas identified for improvement was the herbaceous border and Patrick has redesigned and replanted this to make it a focal point for the garden.  Other key areas such as the rose garden and the Lutyens sunken herb garden are now in the process of restoration. The aim is to create an Edwardian country house feel to the plantings through extensive use of shrub roses mixed with massed herbaceous perennials.


With the Gardens now a show piece for the property, Holland House is able to offer garden workshops and courses as part of its business portfolio.  These courses have quickly proved to be popular and have expanded the property’s business to a wider audience.


In the two and a half years since the original report was prepared the key aims have been realised.  The gardens have become an attractive and useful asset and also contribute positively to the business.