Woburn Abbey’s 15-strong gardens team delivers horticultural excellence across six Woburn business areas as well as the private estates of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.
Led by estates gardens manager Martin Towsey, the team maintains a total of 496 acres including Woburn Abbey and Gardens where an on-going restoration of the Humphrey Repton garden is taking place.
The remainder of the estate maintained by the team includes Woburn Safari Park animal enclosures and foot safari amenity areas, Woburn Hotel, Woburn village frontage and village green, Woburn Golf Club amenity areas, London’s Bedford Square, Montague Gardens, Ridgemont Gardens, and Southampton Row plus The Evergreens private estate and Duke and Duchess' private houses.
A combination of 5-year plans, mission statements, visuals and communication ensures each member of the gardens team benefits from clear direction. The line of communication means a message can get from the key stakeholder the Duke and Duchess, to the project team within 24-hours.
Three travelling gardeners who are learning their trade while studying on day-release at local collages represent Woburn’s investment in the team’s future skills needs. Every three months they move to different parts of the estate and when a permanent position becomes available, one of the three tends to fit the position. They have seen the job and are already 'Woburnised' with an understanding of the operation site. Seven of the current team are 'fruits' of the Woburn travelling gardener scheme.
Goals are met by a team 'with their noses all pointing in the same direction', and a 'let's get this done and to a Woburn standard' attitude.
To meet commercial requirements, the team delivers a programme of events including study days and workshops. The annual Woburn Abbey Garden Show, now in its eighth year is the largest event and delivered entirely by the gardens team.
The team has evolved and developed over the last 12-years alongside the development of the gardens. At quarterly update meetings (all present) individual members are encouraged to present and contribute. This transfers knowledge of training and experience, to the wider team.
The annual general meeting (all are present, including Her Grace who attends for the entire day) is held at other properties so the gardens team can benchmark its performance against other parks and gardens.