Meet our head gardener - Matthew Scott

Head gardener, Emmetts Garden

Matthew Scott - Head gardener

It takes more than your average Joe to be head gardener at Emmetts Garden. Not only do you need practical experience, but you need a strong understanding of conservation in order to look after the nineteenth century garden design and exotic collections gathered from across the world. We talked to head gardener Matthew Scott about his work and experience with the National Trust, and the challenges he faces.

Head gardener, Matthew Scott, of Emmetts Garden, a National Trust property in Kent

What is it like gardening for the National Trust, and how is it different to other gardens?

Gardening for the National Trust can be very challenging as with the Trust being one of the most iconic landowners in the UK, there comes a certain level of expectation to deliver the garden to a high standard all year round. This doesn’t take into account the ever changing climate and weather conditions that we all face on a month by month rotation. However, with the National Trust comes a certain level of pride and acknowledgement that other gardens are credited for.

What’s your favourite area/plant of Emmetts Garden?

Although there are many areas of the garden that captivate me, it is not the exotic/rare plant collections we hold, or the rock or rose gardens that stimulates me, but some of the far reaching views that are tucked away… you may have walked the gardens 10 – 15 times but always manage to pick out a new window or letter box to peer upon.

What’s your favourite time of year at Emmetts Garden?

Being previously from Sheffield Park Garden, another National Trust property, my love for seasons is autumn. There is such a variety of unusual colour to choose from at Emmetts Garden; the south garden bursts into life at this time of year. For me it holds one of the hidden gems Enkianthus Peraulata… simply stunning specimen that sums up autumn at this time of year. 

" Don’t be afraid to try new things, think outside the box and be bold in your decision making and planning."
- Matthew Scott, head gardener at Emmetts Garden

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

Coming from a previous site that had huge running budgets and facilities to a small site, no bigger than a postage stamp, was a real eye opener… joining a garden that had adopted a certain look and feel to their work and the quality of its turn out also.

What exciting projects are coming up?

North Garden five year restoration project - we 're planning a complete overhaul of the area, new plantings, very little of the old planting to be left, new path layouts and additional path networks, flowing water and working ponds up and running. We're putting in an additional glade and the feeder pond area will be opened out too, giving us a chance to look at nineteenth century grass paths and ponds.

Any top gardening tips?

Make time to spend working in and alongside your plant collections, getting to know and understand the way in which they grow, look and feel. Don’t be afraid to try new things, think outside the box and be bold in your decision making and planning.

Any advice for those looking to start a career in gardens?

Gain all round experience first off, don’t streamline your knowledge to one key area or focus, you can do this at a later stage. Someone with all round skills and knowledge sits head and shoulders above one dimensional thinkers.