"The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies." - Gertrude Jekyll

At a Glance

  • At Leighton House, London
  • Tuesdays 14:00 - 15:30
  • 5 weeks from 31 January 2023
  • Tutor: Deborah Trentham
  • Fees from £130 to £150
Booking link

This class is run in partnership with Leighton House, London

William Combe’s The Tour of Dr Syntax was published in 1812, alongside prints by the celebrated cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson. In it, Combe satirised the sometimes pretentious claims made by followers of a new craze that arose in the early nineteenth century, namely the Picturesque. This almost cult-like movement led to passionate claims about nature and landscape gardens, which became easy targets for satirists like Combe and Rowlandson.

Today, words like romantic and the picturesque are used quite casually and we probably do not give much thought to when or where they started. So it might surprise us to learn how recently these words entered the English language, and that their use has such a close relationship to landscape gardening.

In this course Deborah Trentham invites us to join her on a fascinating, and entertaining, journey through the gardens of nineteenth-century Britain, to discover the ideas, personalities and ambitions of the gardeners behind them. From the picturesque tours of Dr Syntax to Frank Crisp's Matterhorn and Gertrude Jekyll's 'natural gardening', the nineteenth-century British garden is full of surprises. From curious inventions of the industrial age to the enthusiasm of plant hunters to discover new species, the results ranged from the extraordinarily beautiful to the downright bizarre.

Whether you enjoy gardening or visiting gardens, or are just fascinated by history, art history or the renaissance world, join us on this exploration into the history of gardening.

The in-person classes at Leighton House in London are informal and interactive, so discussions with the group of your experiences of visiting historic gardens will be welcome additions. However, there no formal course work and no previous knowledge of garden history is required.

Class Recordings

These classes are not recorded


Attendance Certificate


Successful completion of this course leads to the award of an Imperial College attendance certificate


Terms and conditions apply to all enrolments to this course. Please read them before enrolment

Course Information

Your Tutor

Debbie Trentham trained in the history of art, architecture and garden history, initially at Leeds University, and has been teaching garden history for fifteen years. Formerly a teacher of garden history at Birkbeck (University of London) and Capel Manor College where she also taught the history of architecture, Debbie currently teaches garden design students for KLC School of Design at Chelsea Harbour and Hampton Court Palace, along with lecturing at Imperial College London. She has published articles in magazines and periodicals, and appeared on radio and television, including

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 7.5 5 £150   (£20 p/h)
£130   (£17.30 p/h) £140   (£18.60 p/h)
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course. Part-payments are not possible. Equivalent to hourly rate is shown for comparison guidance only, it is not possible to pay pro-rata hourly rates.


Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Available to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Students, staff and Governors of Woodhouse College and the IC Mathematics School

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Co-operative College members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
  • Friends of Leighton House/ Sambourne House
  • Friends of the Royal College of Music
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many of our adult education courses after the course has already started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Friends and Family Scheme

This course is eligible for the  allowing Imperial College students and staff to share their discount with their friends and family.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksSpring termSummer termSummer School
 7.5  5 Week commencing 30 January to week ending 4 March 2023 n/a n/a
* This is a one-term course

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment opens 30 November 2022

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. When enrolling:

  • Do check on the drop down menu above called "Course Fees and Rate Categories" to see if you are eligible for a discounted rate and also do make sure you select that rate when enrolling on the eStore
  • If you are a first-time eStore user you will need to create an account before enrolling. You can do this by entering an email address and password. This account can then be used for any future enrolments via the eStore.

When you have enrolled you will be sent the following email notifications:

What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working days. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the academic content or teaching of this course please contact the programme manager for adult education, Dr Michael Paraskosm.paraskos@imperial.ac.uk

If you have any questions about your enrolment or payment processes please contact the Programme Administrator, Christian Jacobi, eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk