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Stephen Lacey

Garden Writer & Broadcaster


Stephen Lacey is a garden writer, lecturer, broadcaster and plantsman, with a particular interest in planting design. He is a long-standing columnist and feature writer for The Daily Telegraph, and contributes to many other publications including House and Garden, the RHS Journal and Horticulture Magazine. His books include 'The Startling Jungle', 'Scent in Your Garden', 'Gardens of the National Trust' and 'Real Gardening'. 

He lectures on planting design to horticultural societies, design schools and botanic gardens throughout UK, USA and Canada, and for ten years was a regular presenter on the BBC’s Gardeners’ World, exploring creative themes and meeting gardeners and designers across Britain, Europe and America (sadly, the budget for that sort of gardening show has now vanished!). 

Recently, he has begun taking on garden design commissions in UK and the Mediterranean, putting to wider use the inspiration from his garden travels and his own practical experience of growing an extensive range of trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials and greenhouse plants. He lives in London and on the Welsh border, where he has an intensive one acre garden.

“A gardener to his fingertips”  Christopher Lloyd. 

“Stephen Lacey belongs to that cadre of acclaimed garden writers.” Nigel Colborn, RHS Journal The Garden. 

“One of the brightest and most widely read garden writers on the English scene. His book, ‘The Startling Jungle’ is considered a classic”,  
‘International Who’s Who of Gardening’, Vancouver Sun, Canada.



Stephen Lacey can be booked for lectures in UK and internationally. He travels widely for work and pleasure, seeing a huge number of gardens and meeting many of the world’s top designers and gardeners. He is particularly interested in planting design, exploring the different styles and trends, contemporary, traditional and naturalistic, and following their cross-currents across Europe, America and beyond. He is a frequent lecturer for the Royal Horticultural Society, the Hardy Plant Society, the Inchbald School of Garden Design and the English Gardening School. He has done several lecture tours for the New York Botanical Garden and Horticulture Magazine, and has lectured for botanic gardens and garden clubs in New York, Long Island, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Pennsylvania (Longwood), Seattle, Portland, California (Filoli), Denver, Atlanta, Charleston, Davidson and Raleigh NC, Tennessee and Indiana. He often lectures in Canada, including Vancouver, Victoria , Toronto and Hamilton, and has done lecture tours in Australia and New Zealand. 

He has also lectured on gardens and natural history for Swan Hellenic around the Mediterranean, the Middle East and South-east Asia. His design project in Mallorca, allied to his travels around Italy, Spain, Greece and France, is inspiring new lectures. And he is also an enthusiastic tropical traveller, keen on rainforests and ornithology. He has visited East, North and Southern Africa, Central and South America, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and Papua New Guinea, and has written about the plants, animals and ecology of the Amazon and the Caribbean for The Daily Telegraph. 

Borders and Beyond 
This lecture introduces the new approaches to design and planting that have been transforming the look of gardens in Britain, Europe and the U.S.A. It begins with contemporary examples of more traditional flower gardening, including S.L’s own garden in Wales. It then explores new approaches to design and decoration, and the origins and principles of the new nature-inspired styles of planting – featuring woodland and perennial schemes in Germany, Holland, and the East and West Coasts of America, as well as in Britain. S.L. has been charting these movements for a number of years, and has reported on them for BBC television, Horticulture Magazine, U.S.A, et al.

Real Gardening 
Illustrated by some of the finest private gardens S.L. has encountered on his travels in Britain, Ireland, North America and elsewhere, and bolstered by his experiences at home in Wales. This talk explores the creative process of garden making from inspiration to reality. It looks at how different gardeners set about composing and framing pictures; how personality is woven into design; and how ideas translate from garden to garden, and through time. It picks out themes including ornament and water, and then, the spotlight turns onto the art and craft of planting – the interplay of plant form and foliage, the painterly use of colour, and the management of the seasons: the subject matter of ‘Real Gardening’, one of S.L.’s recent books.

Scent in the Garden 
A focus on the most powerful but most neglected element in the garden. The subject has long fascinated S.L. (‘Scent in Your Garden’ was his second book) and many of the photographs are taken in his own garden on the Welsh border. The lecture explores the role of scent in plants, how and when it is released, and the diversity of fragrances in flowers and leaves – pleasant and unpleasant. It then considers the use and placing of scented plants, the making of scented features, and a season by season calendar of outstanding plants.

Gardens of the National Trust 
The National Trust conserves over 150 of Britain’s most celebrated gardens, from Sissinghurst, Hidcote, Powis Castle, Bodnant, Stowe and Stourhead to the newly acquired Greenway and Tyntesfield. They range from green landscapes to formal flower gardens and exotic woodlands, and in varying climates and settings. Within them is a vast assembly of cultivated plants. This lecture is based on S.L.’s project, commissioned by the Trust, to write the principal historical and horticultural guide to all their gardens; he has recently published an updated second edition. It gives a personal insight into the Trust and its work, and surveys the changing designs, planting styles and preoccupations over some 400 years. 

A Garden in the Mediterranean 
This is the latest of S.L's lectures, profiling some of the finest private gardens, traditional and contemporary, seen on his travels in Italy, Spain and the South of France, and exploring the thought processes behind his recent project, to create a large garden on the island of Mallorca. It examines the crucial but more intangible elements that go into the making of a memorable garden - how you create mood and atmosphere, and give your garden style, sensuality and meaning. It draws out lessons on design, outdoor living, and above all planting, illustrating these topics also with reference to world-class gardens he has visited in other regions with similar climates, notably California and Arizona. 


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