Darren Venables, Chewton Glen’s Estate Manager has followed in the gardening footsteps of his great-grandfather. Darren’s immense love of horticulture brought him to Chewton Glen in 1989 as an apprentice gardener. Leaving two years later to complete a national diploma in decorative horticulture, he returned in 1992 and became Head Gardener in1997 and Estate Manager in 2015.
With an estate of 130 acres and a vast variety of projects, from the immaculate Croquet Lawn to shaded woodland walks and the hugely productive kitchen garden and nursery to floral displays and window boxes, Darren and his team have created an environment that is enjoyed by guests and visitors to the hotel and stays true to the ethos of the hotel in its constant quest for perfection. One of Darren’s most recent projects was the creation of a heritage orchard to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Chewton Glen and planning and planting of a bespoke kitchen garden for the new cookery school.
The planting scheme for the kitchen garden provides a wide variety of plants grown in small batches to ensure a consistent and regular supply. The garden has been planned to fit in perfectly with the cookery courses, enabling guests to harvest crops and use them in the dishes they are creating as well as inspiring Adam Hart’s dishes in The Kitchen restaurant. The crowning glory of the kitchen garden is without doubt the Alitex Victorian style greenhouse, which reinforces the ‘picked-to-plate’ home-grown philosophy of the walled garden adjacent to the hotel.