A green fingered dynamic duo

Peter & June lloyd at Millfield Place garden

Peter & June lloyd at Millfield Place garden - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Green fingered husband and wife duo, Peter and June Lloyd are heading out of London, leaving behind a legacy of dedication to gardening

Plant Heritage sale in Highgate

Plant Heritage sale in Highgate - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Plant Heritage, the charity that exists to conserve the diversity of cultivated plants, puts on two excellent plant sales in Highgate every year. Small, specialist nurseries, mainly from the hinterland of London, arrive with tempting plants and bulbs. And how do these sales come about? The answer is, Peter Lloyd arranges them.

Peter does not claim to be a gardener, that is June Lloyd’s area. His forte is “to make sure things get done”. For thirty years this husband and wife team has been working for the family at 2, Millfield Place, N6, getting all manner of things done. The habit of discretion is still so strong with Peter that he cannot bring himself to name his former employer, but “The Boss” died in 2015. Having stayed on to see the family through, Peter and June are now preparing to leave.

June’s 1987 job description did not include gardening, but gardening is in her blood. Luckily their genial employer was too wise to discourage her from taking a hands-on interest in the 2 acre garden. Her planting or pruning ideas were often taken up and there were never any queries about the bills. When John Murphy, the then gardener, suggested opening for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) that too met with approval. Over the last 20+ years, NGS openings have allowed thousands of visitors to enter this spacious but secluded haven.

It was through an advertisement for help with a Plant Heritage sale that June first became involved with the group, and through her that Peter became its treasurer. These two stalwart members are moving to live in Peter’s native Yorkshire. But, at least for the moment, the London group of Plant Heritage can count on their continuing involvement, because “we’re going to miss our friends here”.

Jonathan Trustram in his garden

Jonathan Trustram in his garden - Credit: Nigel Sutton

I visited Peter and June at Millfield Place to hear more of their story. We sat outside on a half-circular bench in one of their favourite areas of the garden, in which the hand of Percy Cane, garden designer (1881-1976) can still be seen. The talk turned to Lancashire, where June was born and her aunts had worked in the textile mills. June’s father had moved to Oxford to work in the steel works, Peter’s father had been a policeman. It sounded a far cry from the life they have created for themselves.

There have been two sunny farewell occasions in the Millfield Place garden, a pop-up NGS opening in May, and the Plant Heritage Garden Party in June. When asked about Peter’s contribution to Plant Heritage, the former chairwoman of the London group, Mel Watson, said, “Oh, Peter’s just the sort of treasurer you want, our committee meetings are always a pleasure and they don’t go on too long.” Bland enough words, until you consider how rare they are in the context of committees. As for June, she is just “the best support mechanism you could ever have”. So Yorkshire’s gain will be North London’s loss, but we can still look forward to seeing them at the Plant Heritage sales.

Most Read

The next Plant Heritage Plant Fair is Sat. 2nd Sept, 10 - 3.30pm at Highgate School.

An Intriguing Garden in N16 opens for the NGS for the first time in many years

The first thing that announces the garden of no. 53 Manor Road, N16, as something special is the imposing sculptural topiary engrossing the front garden. Then at the back, the visitor enters a big green clad enclosure, thick with unusual plants, some towering, some tiny. Jonathan Trustram and his late wife bought the house in 1987 from Anne Wareham, who used to show the garden, but the NGS public has not been invited in since.

Jonathan became a gardener whilst living in a commune in Scotland. He has worked for St. Mungo’s, the charity for the homeless, and still works in a big private garden. In an unassuming way, he sounds very knowledgeable about plants. At first I was surprised by his describing his gardening style as “quite controlling”, but then realized what he meant. This is one of those gardens where chaos threatens, but order does, in fact, prevail...a skillful trick to pull off - at least that is how it seemed when I visited in May. Go at the end of July, when bees should be mobbing the myrtle, and the salvias and inula will be in flower, and see for yourselves.

The garden at 53, Manor Road, N16 5BH open for the NGS Sun 30th July, 11am – 5pm