Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court

London garden visit – 20 May 2016

A large group of MPG members gathered to meet Andrea Brunsendorf, the head gardener of the Inner Temple gardens to commence our tour of the 3-acre site, nestled in amongst London busy street scenes and tucked beside the Thames embankment. The garden has evolved over centuries; mediaeval records describe an orchard on the site. Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court that supply and train barristers and judges for service to the court system. In the past and today the gardens’ remit is to provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city work for its members.

Andrea talked us through her herbaceous border and the technique she used to maintain seasonal interest of weaving a ribbon of removable plants through the centre of the bed. She uses a variety of tulips to give a burst of colour for many weeks.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot’ series

Hesperis steveniana, Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot’, Aquilegia chrysantha

Andrea Brunsendorf, head gardener at the Inner Temple


This year the tulips hadn’t fared so well, but as ever in gardening the Digitalis, one of the Camelot series, a mixture of lilacs, pink and whites on shorter stems came to the rescue and provided a stunning display, mixed with Hesperis, lemon wallflowers and the lovely yellow Aquilegia chrysantha, making a pretty May border. Later these would be followed by Poppies, alliums, roses for structure, and cosmos as pretties, with cardoons as anchors.

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’

Melanoselinum decipiens

Geranium maderense

Polystichum setiferum ‘Herrenhausen’ ground cover

We walked around the gardens and large lawns that have to work for a living and accommodate commercial functions and many visitors. Andrea was generous with her insight and experience advising varieties she preferred of the plants they tried. For the Chelsea fringe they were hosting ‘Peony tree art’ installation.

Paeonia suffruticosa

Libertia ixioides and Phlox divaricate ‘Blue Perfume’

Juglans mandshurica

Andrea and MPG group at the pool

We left Andrea at lunchtime and dined in the Middle Temple dining hall which dates back to 1573 and remains virtually unchanged. We sat on long bench tables amongst the legal practitioners. It was rather surreal eating in the hall where Shakespeare had first performed Twelfth Night.

After lunch Kate Jenrick, the Middle Temple head gardener, showed us around her 1-acre garden which is split over four spaces in the Middle Temple. Immediately exiting the dining hall brought us to lawns and a courtyard garden that had seasonal planting against a shrub backdrop and again earns its living hosting events and functions.

Introduction with Kate Jenrick

Main lawn, Middle Temple

The mulberry trees (Morus nigra) in Fountain Court, planted for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, looked majestic, presiding over this small tranquil space well used by the members and public.

Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’

Euphorbia x pasteurii ‘John Phillips’

Teucrium fruticosum hedge

Rose garden

Then on to one of Kate’s recent successes turning an unloved area of paved courtyard into a pretty herb garden, creating raised beds with tonnes of imported soil. The central focal point is the summer-flowering Styrax japonica. The beds are dressed with a circumference planting of marjoram. In all a welcome change to the ‘smoker zone’ it was.


Echium pininana

Jubaea chilensis

Vegetable garden with Styrax japonica (top right, not in flower)

Morus nigra and pool

We had such good fortune to have a dry, fine day to explore these lesser known but very special gardens and I think everyone enjoyed the time spent with the head gardeners who generously gave so freely of their time.

Sue Tymon

Images: John Fielding