Gardening gurus appointed at historic estate near Pulborough

Erika Packard and Tim Miles
Erika Packard and Tim Miles

A new head gardening team has been appointed to Parham House and Gardens.

Erika Packard will take on the role of head gardener and will be supported by her husband and horticulturalist Tim Miles as assistant head gardener. The couple will join Parham on September 9.

Following a successful career in journalism, marketing and communications, Erika went on to pursue a life-long passion for horticulture, training as a community horticultural educator and volunteering with the Piedmont Master Gardeners in her hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, in the United States. Inspired to learn more, Erika relocated to Scotland where she was awarded a BSc degree in Horticulture with Plantsmanship from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, finishing at the top of her class.

She went on to become head gardener of a large private garden designed by Tom Stuart- Smith in Kent.

Erika also has a keen interest in needlework and flower arranging, which are significant features of Parham House and its history, creating another opportunity to further interweave the house and gardens.

Talking about her new role, Erika said: “I am very excited by the chance to lead an already accomplished team as we continue Parham’s upward trajectory as a notable British garden.

“I plan to bring horticultural rigour, an artist’s eye and a plantsperson’s wide palette to develop a garden that honours its dramatic historic setting while providing an inspirational experience for its visitors.”

Erika will be joined by her husband Tim Miles, who moved into horticulture in 2014 after a career as a chef in prestigious restaurants around the world.

Tim graduated from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with distinction in July 2017 and that month began work at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent.

In 2018 Tim won the Chartered Institute of Horticulture’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

Tim said: “Since Erika and I met at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, it has been our dream to develop a garden together, and we are especially grateful to Lady Emma (Barnard) and her husband James for having the vision to engage us as a team.

“We believe working with them and the existing gardeners at Parham will be a dynamic creative collaboration that will push the garden forward into a new and exciting stage of development.”

Lady Emma, chatelaine of Parham, said: “Erika and Tim are energetic and highly knowledgeable horticulturists, with a sophisticated eye for detail.

“They understand and share what has always been my simple vision for the garden, namely that, in order for it to continue to flourish as a dynamic part of the visitor attraction, the emphasis should remain on it being a uniquely beautiful, tranquil family garden of exceptional quality.”

Parham is one of the country’s finest Elizabethan houses, known for its rare and precious collection of paintings, furniture and needlework.

The four-acre 18th century walled garden includes a vegetable garden, orchard and 1920s Wendy house. Its opulent mixed borders and abundant greenhouse provide flowers and plants to decorate every room in the house, an old Parham tradition. The adjoining pleasure grounds include a lake, many specimen trees and a brick and turf maze.

Parham House and Gardens is open to the public from April to October. www.parhaminsussex.co.uk

Parham House is situated on the A283 Pulborough - Storrington Road.