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English gardener Sankey returns to Hudson

Andrew Sankey, English gardener, historian and humorist is back in Hudson as a house guest of Jean and Wayne Haut. He will be sharing some of his wisdom and knowledge in Hudson on Sept. 23. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl1 / 3
The Stourhead Landscape Garden is an example of classical design surrounding a central lake. Photo by Andrew Sankey2 / 3
The 17th century Powis Castle garden is a prime example of a Dutch period garden. Photo by Andrew Sankey3 / 3

Enthusiasm is not in short supply if you have a chance to chat with English gardener Andrew Sankey, who is back in Hudson, for the first time since 2008.

He is the house guest of Hudson residents Wayne and Jean Haut. I caught up with him on Monday shortly after he had arrived from the airport -- a journey which started at 2:30 a.m. in England. After missing his connecting flight in Chicago due to customs delays, he was still ready to share his new ideas.

If you ever thought about traveling to England to see the magnificent gardens but airfare and time prevented you from going, all you have to do is go to Citizens State Bank on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. Sankey is presenting a program called Great English Gardens. He will be taking guests on a journey by an extensive slide show and his unique, historical touched with humor lecture.

This year Sankey will be taking you to Powis Castle to view a 17th century garden which is original to that period. It is only one of two gardens in the whole of Britain that remain intact from that era. It is considered a formal garden of the Dutch period. When William and Mary came back to England they brought this garden style with them.

The second place you will visit is the Stourhead Landscape Garden, designed in the late 17th century by the Henry Hoare, known as Henry the Magnificent.

"It is in a classical style," said Sankey, "with temples, gothic cottages and obelisks around a central lake. It is meant to tell a Greek tale."

The third stop will be at Biddulph Grange Garden.

"It is a restored, complete Victorian garden," said Sankey. "It is one of the first gardens to be divided into 'rooms.'" It includes areas representing Egypt, Italy, a Cheshire cottage, China and a Scottish glen. Another area of interest is called the Stumpery, where tree stumps and roots are used in the design. This garden dates from the early 19th century, between 1830 and 1840. It includes caves and mazes.

So buckle up your seat belt and drive to Hudson for Sankey's unique and lively presentation.

While stateside, Sankey will also be a guest lecturer in Ellsworth on Saturday for the St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association. Sunday, he returns to Duluth to present the design he created for a turf maze in the shape of Lake Superior.

Sankey continues to be popular at home as well, teaching extended courses, hosting a radio show and appearing occasionally on television.

His newest project at home, which will be the subject of his third book, is to create a medicinal garden bed.

"It will be tied in with all the cures and remedies of Lincolnshire," said Sankey. "The research has been fascinating."

Not to sit idle for long, he is already thick into the research for a course he is teaching on plant hunters -- those explorers who traveled the world for England to bring back plant species for the motherland.

Jet-lag did not defeat Sankey's energy or joy which literally pours out of him as he talks about gardens and their history. The former math and graphics design teacher lives just outside of Lincolnshire, England, a very rural county three hours north of London.

No reservations are required for the Sept. 23 event. Citizens State Bank is located at 379 Stageline Road. An admission charge of $5 will be used to cover expenses. The remainder collected will be donated to local garden projects. Copies of his second book Companion Planting will be available.