Kate Burtonwood

Kate Burtonwood

Sustainable gardener, horticulturist, plant lover, one of those “career changers”….

I was delighted to be named one of HortWeek’s Top150 UK Head Gardeners and in 2024 to be named by Gardens Illustrated as one of 12 leading female gardeners

It’s been a fascinating journey into 
horticulture and I am hoping to share a bit of that challenge and excitement with you, as well as hints for gardening and updates on what I am doing in gardening.

In 2015, after 15 years sitting at a desk, I re-trained in Botanical Horticulture at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, where I encountered some amazing horticulturists and even more amazing plants.  Prior to that I had done my RHS certificates and spent time learning from Head Gardener Andrea Brunsendorf at London’s Inner Temple Garden.  I’ve been employed at Lord Heseltine’s private estate, Thenford, and lately I’ve been branching out into more of the delightful gardens in Oxford and the Cotswolds. Currently, I am Head Gardener at Trinity College, part of the University of Oxford.  

The idea of the Cultivated Gardener came to me while trying to improve a less well-maintained garden.  It was not so much about working to add “a touch of class” – although I liked the name for that reason.  It was more a strong conviction, that ornamental horticulture isn’t about just putting a plant in a garden and seeing if it grows, then leaving it to its own devices.  We must use our knowledge to care for the plant, and, if it thrives, use skill to help it flourish and ensure it is serving its purpose in the chosen spot. I also believe strongly in learning about and making common practice horticultural techniques which are more sustainable and environmentally friendly. I feel the received wisdom in UK gardening which leads people to believe they must create a plain lawn and seasonal display at all cost to count their garden a success should be challenged by those working in horticulture. Our focus this century should be on preserving resources and considering conservation and the impact of climate change.