SAA Gardening Conference

Celebrating the Changing Face of Gardens

Thursday 14 March 2024, 10am to 3.30pm

Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, IP3 8UH


Celebrations are in order - many of us have enjoyed Gardening Conferences at Trinity Park and this will be the TENTH such event since 2005. Do please join to help to mark this anniversary .

  9.30am          Registration and Coffee

10.00am        Chairman’s Introduction – Stephen Fletcher DL, President of the Suffolk Agricultural Association

Stephen has practiced as a Chartered Surveyor in Suffolk for over 40 years, during which time he has witnessed some of the most beautiful gardens in the County. A member of the SAA council for many years, Stephen was  chairman from 2008 - 2013. Stephen served as a Trustee of various organisations and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Suffolk in 2006  A keen sailor, walker, and tennis player, he's now promised Marion to devote more energy to their garden!

  10.10am       What is a Garden? Edward Martin

Edward spent many years with Suffolk County Council specialising in prehistory and historic landscape studies. He has written and lectured widely on it. He will recount an archaeologist’s exploration of what makes a garden, how do we recognise one, what do we expect to find and, importantly, how are our expectations influenced by the changing needs, values, and beliefs of the society we live in. Defining the significance of gardens has been an important strand of the work of the Suffolk Gardens Trust over the past year as it has participated in a joint Gardens Trust and Historic England project entitled " Suffolk's Unforgettable Garden story "which aims to increase the number of registered Suffolk gardens.

  11.15am       A Lifelong Adventure with Gardening - Clare Matterson CBE

Clare is Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society, the UK's leading garden charity. The RHS aims to support everyone on their lifelong adventure with gardening achieved through its five national gardens, 3 million visitors annually, community and education activities, horticultural expertise, and scientific research. Clare was previously Executive Director of Engagement at the Natural History Museum.  At the Wellcome Trust for 17 years, Clare was Director of Strategy and of Culture and Society ; she co - founded the Wellcome Collection. Clare is Chair of the First Light Festival in Suffolk. She lives in Suffolk with her family and is involved with local community gardening.

  12.15pm       Lunch and shopping time with the trade exhibitors.

  1.30pm         Garden Designers Open their Notebooks

James Alexander - Sinclair who spoke in 2015 and Ann - Marie Powell who joins him for this session have  been designing gardens for quite a while now and, have been first hand witnesses to the changes that have happened over the past couple of decades. They will tell stories of gardens they have designed, outlining how attitudes to gardens are changing and why both still love what they do.    

James is a renowned British garden designer who began his career as a landscape contractor in London before moving to the English countryside in 1992. Since then, he has designed private and public gardens both large and small throughout the UK and occasionally beyond. A well-known writer, contributing to many British horticultural publications, he has been voted Garden Journalist of the year. He has had a varied career in TV including covering Chelsea Flower Show. An engaging, lively speaker, he is much in demand on the lecture circuit in UK and America.  

Ann - Marie Powell's   multi - award - winning garden design practice has seen outdoor spaces as places with exciting possibilities for over twenty years. Based in the UK, her studio aims for bold colours and textural contrasts, creating garden habitats that invite an evolving ecology instead of the traditionally decorated garden. Sustainability is a fundamental value approach ; she and her team strive to design naturally energetic and bold landscapes to become havens for an abundance of insects and wildlife where her clients live in harmony,  with the natural world.  Ann - Marie is an author and regular contributor to national magazines and newspapers.

3.30pm              Tea, biscuits and shopping time with the trade exhibitors.

NOW SOLD OUT If you would like to go on the waiting list please email 

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