The Sunnyside Orchard Nursery

The Sunnyside Orchard Nursery


The Sunnyside Orchard Nursery was granted planning permission in January 2020. The aim is to develop a  community garden on a one-acre site known as Sunnyside Orchard, at Serge Hill in Hertfordshire, where Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith live. This not-for-profit initiative will offer resources to local schools and charities as well as local residents who want to get involved in gardening.

Tom Stuart-Smith

Tom Stuart-Smith is an acclaimed landscape architect. Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist & author of The Well Gardened Mind a wonderful book about the origins and impact of horticultural therapy). Our working relationship with Tom & Sue started by working for them as gardeners at Serge Hill.


This developed over time & Sunnyside grew all the perennials for Tom Stuart-Smith’s Horticultural Icon garden at the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival 2021.

In the following video, Tom talks about the climate-resilient planting of meadow perennials he would feature in the display, working with a team of apprentices at Sunnyside Rural Trust, our charity which offers training and work experience to vulnerable people, who helped to grow the herbaceous plants for the garden.

Tom also takes you on a tour of his own garden and shares how using contrast between structure and biodiverse, colourful planting has influenced his designs for RHS Garden Bridgewater.


Sue Stuart-Smith

The Sunnyside Orchard Nursery is a land based service offering education, therapeutic horticulture, a sustainable social enterprise and a community hub. It is sited on the land owned by Tom & Sue Stuart-Smith and will pull together the best local charities and horticultural resources to offer an innovative and dynamic service to those most vulnerable.

We are planning on launching our new nursery in spring 2024. We need to fund a greenhouse to propagate from the incredible plant library on site, a mess room for groups to use with facilities and a standing out area for plants.

At a time when the therapeutic benefits of horticulture are so clear and cuts to social care are so common; this nursery will provide a space to heal and opportunity to develop.

Plant Library


The project will offer:
• On the job training and work experience to improve self-esteem, confidence, skills etc and reduce the likelihood of long term unemployment.
• To create paid employment around the perennial contract work as well as volunteer opportunities.
• It will reduce the need for people to be on benefits and hopefully through positive life choices people will lead healthy life’s and reduce to burden on health services.
• To break down barriers for disadvantaged & vulnerable young people and adults within their communities
• To break the cycle for young people by starting them on a pathway of opportunity rather than benefit and the poverty trap.

Funding required – please see detailed list at the end of the document. Your donations are welcome here.

We are seeking funds for three aspects of the project:

Nursery construction, Greenhouse, Mess Room

Establishing the nursery at the Serge Hill. So far we have partially fenced the site, laid on some services and created a level platform for the nursery. We propose to build a 12mx6.4m glasshouse, mess room, accessible toilet, and access ramp to get into the nursery. We propose to construct compost heaps so that waste from the garden is, as far as possible, recycled. The objective will be to have 6 full time apprentices working on the nursery which covers c. 760m2. Plants from the library will be propagated and grown on prior to being taken to other Sunnyside sites where they can be grown on to commercial size. Plants will also be sold on an informal basis at Serge Hill for the regular garden openings.

We need £164,864 to complete our full operating perennial nursery and horticultural therapeutic service.

We are working in a climate of constant and significant changes to social care services across all disciplines. It is time for the voluntary sector to develop services that generate opportunity and financial sustainability. This approach will avoid the crisis spiralling out of control and bringing independence.

The project will exist for many years to come; the work it carries out will create a legacy for the large number of people with learning disabilities and vulnerable young people Sunnyside supports.

“Every community needs a place at its heart where people are nurtured” Tom Stuart-Smith.

To read our full project proposal, please visit – The Sunnyside Orchard Nursery – Proposal.

Please read Tom Stuart-Smiths article on ‘Gardening can be empowering’ in the Daily Telegraph Sunnyside Orchard Nursery

Sunnyside trainees