James Horner, Head Gardener

The Garden Museum and trustees of Benton End are delighted to announce the appointment of James Horner as Head Gardener of Benton End. An accomplished plantsman, garden designer and former Great Dixter scholar with a passion for beautiful plants and increasing biodiversity, James took up the in early 2023 to lead the revival of Cedric Morris’s once renowned and pioneering garden.

“I have come to the garden following a decade of working in many gardens and places in the UK and Europe, as a gardener and designer. I have a passion for plants which has led me both into wild places: up mountains and into forests; but also to revive the soil of a long time forgotten Victorian walled garden in East Sussex where I’ve cultivated many hundreds of different plant species and cultivars. All this curiosity and enthusiasm for gardens was instilled in me by an inspiring three years gardening and living at Great Dixter, where I felt honoured to be the first Christopher Lloyd scholar.

“ I feel I am joining the Benton End project at a crucial moment as the garden further engages with its revival towards being a ‘bewildering, mind stretching, eye-widening canvas of colour, texture and shapes’ as Beth Chatto recounted in the days she visited Cedric with the garden at full tilt. My aim is to continue the sterling work by Matt Collins, Lucy Skellorn and Sam Woodward in repatriating plants to Benton End. Whilst sensitively finding my way in the garden, undertaking pruning, weeding and growing, investigating and reading of the history of the garden; and with help from the garden advisors team actioning any changes which will enhance the garden long term. It’s set to be a lengthy process yet I’m sure the journey will be fascinating.”

James Horner March 2023.

Garden Museum Head Gardener Matt Collins visited James recently at the Victorian walled garden he rents in East Sussex; the growing space and experimental ground for his numerous planting design projects to date. With delicate snowdrops heralding signs of spring and the rosettes of curious perennials fattening underfoot, James showed Matt around the 3/4 acre site — which he describes as his ‘plant den’ — and discussed the horticultural journey that has led him to this appointment. Read more: https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/meet-benton-ends-new-head-gardener-james-horner/

Photo courtesy of Jessica McCormick
Text courtesy The Garden Museum