Meet the New Head Gardener: Ray Abraham

Hello, my role in the Grade 1 Listed Heritage gardens at Leonardslee is to preserve and maintain this very special collection that Sir Edmund Loder created in the nineteenth century.

The goal is to ensure that future generations can enjoy this beautiful place, to care for the many plant species that are now endangered due to deforestation in the wild and also climate change.

Over the next few years, we will be restoring the gardens following a long period of neglect before the current owners took over. We have a major propagation project planned, to create new plants, so we do not lose any species to disease or natural death.

We are also cataloguing the gardens so we can confirm which plants are still growing against the historical records.

I have been working in gardens all of my life, and Rhododendrons have featured particularly, as I have had the pleasure to work with some of the great Rhododendron collections on the large estates set up by Victorian plant collectors.

Amongst the issues facing the horticultural profession today is attracting a new, younger generation, to ensure that they can be taught by those in the industry that are on the verge of retirement. This is essential to ensure that the wealth of collective knowledge can be carried forward by future generations, as well as embracing new methods and technologies.

Looking to the future in our industry, I see a growing interest in the cultivation of organic food and less use of chemicals as public awareness increases about the effects on the environment. I hope that horticulture gets wider recognition, especially of the benefits it can bring to improve people’s lives in our increasingly stressful world.




Emily Grey