Horticultural masterclasses, walks and workshops are just some of the events taking place at Wimborne's Knoll Gardens this year, as part of a milestone anniversary.

The extended programme, which features more than 70 events, marks 25 years since owner Neil Lucas arrived at the garden.

Neil will be leading many of the workshops and walks himself, alongside an increased line-up of wildlife events and art, craft and photography workshops, as well as Knoll’s first Festival of Grasses.

The UK’s leading authority on ornamental grasses, Neil has spent the past 25 years creating his acclaimed naturalistic garden in east Dorset. Knoll’s first Festival of Grasses will celebrate not only his anniversary but also the glory of ornamental grasses in the autumn when so many gardens are past their best.

Knoll’s event programme starts on Saturday, March 16 with a mini-masterclass on preparing grasses for stunning summer effect, followed by a willow weaving workshop on March 23.

In April, events include an evening bat walk on Thursday, April 11 and a beginners’ macro photography workshop on Friday, April 12. The first of four seasonal garden walks, led by Neil, runs on Thursday, April 26.

May events include a bee walk, volunteers day, terrarium and mosaic workshops, and outdoor yoga as well as Neil’s naturalistic gardening workshop.

“We want 2019 to be a special year for everyone at Knoll Gardens," says Neil, who is a professional horticulturalist and leading authority on ornamental grasses.

"We are working with some wonderful wildlife experts who will be sharing their incredible knowledge with our visitors, as well as some hugely talented craftspeople and artists. We also run a programme of regular events including our own toddler club, Bugs and Buds and outdoor yoga.

"Our aim is to encourage more people to visit us, spend some time in our relaxed environment and find out about the many benefits of our naturalistic gardening style.”

Neil’s love of plants and the natural world developed during holidays spent with his grandparents – inspired by his grandfather’s amateur expertise as a grower and exhibitor of delphiniums.

Despite a childhood desire to become a zookeeper, he began his working life as a Civil Servant, but soon realised that his ideal environment was outdoors rather than in an office.

When his parents took over an hotel in Devon he looked after the lawns and gardens before moving to the local authority parks division, eventually ending up as Gardens Manager at Torbay NHS Trust.

In 1994 Neil took over Knoll Gardens which was, at the time,a private botanical garden. Neil began to develop the site into a specialist ornamental grass nursery, trialling and growing new grasses and using the four-acre garden to show practical examples of his design ideas. Having started with around 50, the nursery now grows more than 400 varieties.

Having won ten consecutive Gold Medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Neil stepped back from exhibiting and is now a senior judge and Royal Horticultural Society Council Member. His first book, Designing with Grasses, was published by Timber Press in 2010 and has become a standard work for garden designers.

MARCH EVENTS: Saturday, March 16 Mini-masterclass: Preparing for Spring To cut or not to cut? Led by Knoll’s owner, Neil Lucas, the UK’s leading authority on ornamental grasses, this practical mini-masterclass will not only answer the most–asked question at Knoll’s nursery but also help you ensure your own grasses are ready to produce the ‘wow factor’ this summer.

10.30am – 12 noon, £15 Saturday, March 23 Workshop: Willow workshop - plant climbers with Tracy Standish Join Tracy in the garden to learn about simple willow weaving techniques as you create a tall plant support for your garden. Using brown, ‘Dicky Meadows’ willow, sourced from Somerset, you’ll build a 4 – 5ft garden plant climber perfect for displaying beans or sweet peas in pots or borders. Weaving will take place in the garden under the shelter of a marquee, so please dress appropriately for the weather. Drinks can be purchased from the refreshment cabin. Please bring secateurs if possible, although there will some available to borrow.

10.30 – 1pm, £35 (min 5, max 8) Saturday, March 30 Bugs and Buds toddler club Monthly Saturday morning toddler club which aims to inspire a love of nature from a young age and encourage interaction with the garden’s many wildlife inhabitants as well as its trees and flowers. Organised by the garden’s charity, the Knoll Gardens Foundation.

10.30am – noon, £4.50.

T: 01202 873931 E: education@knollgardens.co.uk W: knollgardens.co.uk