An insight into the garden at Squerryes Court - with Head Gardener Derek

Find out about the garden and what happened when Bridgerton arrived at Squerryes Court

As the Head Gardener at Squerryes Court, Derek is used to working on his own, enjoying the peacefulness of the garden with just his dog Beau for company most days.

When Bridgerton rolled into town in August 2022, it was quite a spectacle and the tranquillity was broken for a couple of weeks as the crew arrived to set up, film, then breakdown.

As well as taking over the garden, the production crew set up camp in an adjacent field for their base. Most of the field was covered in aluminium flooring with two large marquees that were at least 25m wide and over 100m long, with one alone just for costumes. With them came two canteens, street lights and 24 hour security guards, making it a massive operation alongside all the cast and crew. It certainly drew the attention of the residents of Westerham with all the lorries coming and going making deliveries.

An insight into the garden at Squerryes Court
Photography: Liam Daniel/Netflix 2024

The scene that was filmed at Squerryes Court was a garden party for the Featherington family. Known for their bad taste and love of bright, garish colours, the garden was dressed in bright orange, yellow and pink floral displays, with plumes of feathers giving height and drama. Derek was on-hand to help move pots and answer any questions the crew had but needed to be out of sight as filming got underway and all noisy, machine-driven work in the garden had to stop.

Whilst Derek carried on with his work in the background, he caught glimpses of the characters walking up to the set, although their ornate outfits were covered by large robes to prevent prying eyes and long lenses taking pictures. It was a busy few days of filming but once the actors disappeared and the crew dismantled the sets and cleared away, Derek was just left to rake over the gravel as the final task.

Photography: Liam Daniel/Netflix 2024

Derek started work at Squerryes Court in 2020, having been a Head Gardener for over 20 years and working for Sarah Raven establishing her cutting garden. As a child he always loved gardening but was steered down a more academic path before returning to his passion in his late twenties. Derek now holds a Diploma in Horticulture from RHS Wisely and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

Since he started at Squerryes Court, a lot of work has gone into reviving the borders and the wider parkland. Derek says he likes to consider a garden as a whole rather than just individual segments, with an emphasis on re-using plants, taking cuttings, planting perennials and ensuring a good supply of blooms from the cut flower garden for the house and restaurant.

Those coming to see the garden on Friday 17th May as part of the National Garden Scheme are in for a treat as Derek explains:

'The parkland is looking particularly good at this time of year and always comes into flower before the borders. There are bluebells, Ghent azaleas and rhododendrons all in colours and we’ve been renovating the woodland over winter, taking out several hundred trees to let in more light. We’re planting new wildflower meadows, and whilst they’re just in the seedling stage, the borders are coming into flower and the wisteria is in full bloom against the house.

It's worth walking around the whole garden. Most people don’t go all the way round because it’s so big. There’s a stream, woodland and a wonderful view of the house from across the lake. I also recommend you walk up to top of the rear garden between the hedges to the large tree where you can see over the top of the house to the North Downs.'

As any gardener knows, a garden is never complete. Derek’s next task is to manage the trees around the lake at the front of the house where some have fallen over the years and the edge needs redefining. There’s more work to do in the new wildflower meadows where the trees have recently been cleared too. Then there will be some considered planting of trees to fill in the void between the established trees and the herbaceous borders, focusing on large flowering shrubs and ones which deliver autumn colour.

So whether you’re a Bridgerton or gardening fan, make a date to visit the garden at Squerryes Court on Friday 17th May from 11am-5pm. Refreshments will be available with all profits going to Cancer Research and a Squerryes Wine Ambassador will be on hand offering glasses of Squerryes award-winning sparkling wine too. Tickets can be booked in advance or paid for on the gate.

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Event Date:
May 14, 2024
& December 10, 2022
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