Chatsworth’s head of gardens gives Matlock Lunch Club an insight into his job

Mary Healey and Steve Porter.
Mary Healey and Steve Porter.

Members of Matlock Luncheon Club found out all about the job of managing more than 100 acres of garden and nearly 2,000 acres of park and woodlands at Chatsworth.

Steve Porter, who is Chatsworth’s head of gardens and landscapes, manages 30 staff and 70 volunteers as well as many projects and events taking place on the estate.

The progression of the Chatsworth Estate from its creation by Bess of Hardwick in 1549 has been a constant development through the earls and then Dukes of Devonshire.

Each Duke has left his mark through his development of the estate despite financial problems at times. Early gardens were formal in the European styling reflecting Hampton Court and Versailles, changed by later Dukes to English gardens with lawns and less formality, bringing the parklands closer to the house. The renowned Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton were instrumental, their contributions and influence remain to the present day.

Currently Chatsworth are working with world class designers adding another layer of planting and interests in the gardens and landscapes. Perennial borders, additions to the rockeries and woodland development are in progress, together with the ongoing replacement of Victorian underground piping.

Jeanette Kerr gave the vote of thanks.

Steve Porter is pictured with the club chairman Mary Healey.