Churchill Fellows to investigate excellence in Horticulture

Published: 22 Mar 2016

Churchill Fellows to investigate excellence in Horticulture

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society, has just awarded two Horticulture Fellowships to mark the tercentenary of Capability Brown.

The Fellows will investigate international excellence in horticultural development, in order to bring back new ideas and positive change to their profession, and the UK gardening community.

This is the first year of a three year partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society, to jointly fund two Fellowships to horticulturalists and garden designers, and will further the UK’s reputation as a global centre of horticultural knowledge and expertise.

The Travelling Fellowships will form part of a nationwide series of commemorative events taking place across the UK this year to mark the tercentenary of the birth of one of the UK’s greatest ever gardeners, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, one of the United Kingdom’s most celebrated garden designers. Famed for popularising the English romantic style through an idealised interpretation of nature, Brown’s rolling landscapes and gothic ruins inspired a Europe-wide obsession for Jardins à l’anglaise.

Julia Weston, Chief Executive of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, said:

‘We have a long history of supporting Fellowship projects in garden and landscape design and related horticultural professions. We are delighted to be involved in a partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society in this special anniversary year.’

Tim Upson, RHS Director of Horticulture, said:

“We hope this incredibly important partnership will encourage the exploration of both the historic aspects of landscapes, that help us understand and celebrate our horticultural heritage, but also increase our knowledge of the many important health, social and environmental benefits that horticulture can bring to our rapidly growing and hugely diverse urbanised communities”.

This year’s award winners are:

  • Anna de la Vega, the owner of The Urban Worm, an organic waste management and gardening project in Nottingham. She will be travelling to Cuba and the USA to investigate approaches to food production and worm composting.
  • Matthew Smith, a gardener from Evesham, who will be travelling to France and South Africa to explore the flora of the region as discovered by historical plant hunters.

Case Study

John Phibbs travelled to Sweden and Russia in 1983 on his Churchill Travelling Fellowship, to investigate English style landscape designs in Northern Europe.

He wanted to understand more about the techniques and problems facing these landscapes, as well as maintenance difficulties. His aim was to promote ways that formal and English traditions of gardening could be considered as compatible, rather than opposed to each other.

John has gone on to become the Principal of Debois Landscape Survey Group, and is a renowned garden historian and author with more than 30 years’ experience of planning and management of historic landscapes, conservation and restoration planning. He set up the Capability Brown 1716–2016 Partnership of 20 organisations to celebrate the life and achievements of Britain’s greatest landscape gardener and to spread greater understanding and enjoyment of his work and influence. His book on Capability Brown as a designer will be published in 2016. John is encouraging owners of the surviving Brown landscapes to open them to the public for celebration during 2016.

Notes to Editors

The Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture.  Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place.  We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live. 

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bringing the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing over 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit 

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262.