Female gardeners who have influenced Neil Miller

March 08 2022 | Garden

female gardeners who have influenced my life

Female gardeners have had a profound impact on my professional life in the garden at Hever Castle & Gardens and I have learned so much from so many inspirational women in horticulture. It’s impossible to single out just one woman who has inspired me the most, but here are my top five!

Helen Yemm

First person who inspired me was gardening journalist Helen Yemm. As a young and newly qualified gardener, I would read Helen’s columns in the Telegraph. She was a kind of ‘agony aunt’ for gardeners and always knew how to answer their ‘thorny problems’ with grace and fantastic knowledge. I loved the way she answered readers queries in bite-sized chunks along with fantastic solutions that I still remember and use today

Carol Klein

Working in television as a presenter and writing regular gardening columns, Carol Klein’s passion for horticulture is infectious – I’ve met her a couple of times at Hever and she can make everything in horticulture sounds brilliant and essential! Passion goes a long way in horticulture, in fact, I don’t think you can be a good gardener without passion. Carole’s enthusiasm has won her countless fans over the years, and I’m one for sure!

Charlie Dimmock

A member of the original Ground Force team, Charlie Dimmock has a wonderful character and approach to gardening which is fun. Charlie is an expert on water features and any time I have queries for our Water Maze I look to Charlie. She’s inspirational with water and always manages to give every design she’s involved in a unique ‘twist’.

Juliet Sargeant

Genuine and warm, Juliet as a designer and a gardener displays a sense of ‘care’ with all that she does. Juliet has an innate understanding of what proper gardeners want.

A member of the Gardeners’ World team, Juliet is also currently creating the BBC Blue Peter garden for RHS Chelsea focusing on the topic of soil – which gardeners will tell you is essential to get right!  Without good soil, or an understanding of soil your designs (and your plans) in the garden won’t work!  Juliet’s speciality with garden design engages me and I look to her iconic gardens like the Modern Slavery Garden for RHS Chelsea in 2016 for inspiration – it won an RHS Chelsea Gold medal and was also voted the winner of the BBC’s People’s Choice Award that year.


One of my team members Janice is incredibly arty and comes form a career in design and a lot of the intricate designs we have here at Hever Castle & Gardens we have Janice to thank. I can have a vision of what I want and Janice will understand that and make it happen in practice. She’s fantastic with topiary and I know where I’m going with it but somehow Janice’s brain can see the final product in her mind’s eye. Without Janice my job would be much harder.