Gary Bristow was previously a learner here at Stoke Lodge, and his story highlights the success that can come from undertaking one of our adult learning courses.

“The adult learning Garden Design course that I undertook at Stoke Lodge was absolutely fantastic. The tutor Jon Wheatley is incredibly knowledgeable and provided an excellent, inspiring and supportive course. It gave me the skills and confidence to pursue my career change and to design and build my “As Mad as a Hatter” show garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.”

Mad as a Hatter Garden

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Click here to visit the garden’s website

Inspired by the long forgotten story and the colourful lives of hatters in a South Gloucestershire village, this garden is an imaginative celebration of felt hat-making. With its contemporary naturalistic design, the garden features a spectacular range of shrubs, perennials, herbs and vegetables. Plants that were traditionally used in the creation of felt hats including Woad, Weld, Teasel and Madder are important elements in the design. Designed to inspire us all to be more adventurous in our own gardens, the garden celebrates the exciting and diverse range of plants available to British gardeners. Local pennant stone, an original copper hat felting bath, timber hat moulds and stained glass all feature in this creative design.

“I was absolutely delighted to be awarded a Gold Medal by the RHS for my garden, particularly as it was my first show garden. The feedback from the RHS was incredibly encouraging and supportive.”

Since completing the course at Stoke Lodge, Gary has gone off to start his own business! Find out more about Gary’s fantastic work on his website