Alan’s talks

and retreats

List of talks given by alan

  • Cascades Gardens: From Jungle to Paradise. The story of the garden development.
  • Gardening With Nature: A review of Sacred gardens around the world;Japanese, Chinese and Persian gardens and the ideas behind them.
  • Japanese gardenng – What is a japanese garden? How to make a japanese garden.
  • Zen gardening – The Garden Is My Teacher: Alan takes you on 25 years of experience and challenge in developing Cascades Gardens, his meditation garden. He explains how the garden has taught him profound lessons about nature and life.
  • A Tibetan Journey For general interest groups (U3A, Probus, Rotary, WI etc) He offers a talk on his travels in Tibet and work for Tibetan refugees in India for the Dalai Lama.

More details on the talks

1. Cascades Gardens: From Jungle to Paradise

Alan Clements, the owner has been gardening for over 50 years and has developed Cascades Gardens over the last 22 years based on the industrial landscaping in an old quarry, created in 1800 to feed water to the now ruined corn mill.

He is available to deliver a one hour talk (or longer) on the history of the garden “From Jungle to Paradise” with a wide range of pictures of its development and current array of flowers, shrubs and trees. This is a good talk as an introduction to the garden and a group visit.

The slide show and talk describes the 22 year development of Cascades Gardens, a peaceful and beautiful four acre garden in Bonsall Derbyshire. Originally a wild gorge under an 80 foot cliff with a canal, stream and woodland, the owner discusses the gardens and gardeners that have inspired him and tracks the construction and planting of the garden in his attempt to create a peaceful and natural garden out of this dramatic landscape.

The talk includes:

  • Photos of the wild land 40 years ago.
  • Gardens and gardeners that have inspired him.
  • Initial landscaping, the issues, statues and nursery.
  • Pictures throughout the seasons including the Hellebore collection.
  • Succession planting and the cascades
  • Conifer rockery and Chrysanthemums
  • Why do we garden?

The garden is influenced by Japanese gardens and Buddhist philosophy. Alan had a range of influences in creating the garden which included Hidcote Manor, Bressingham 5 acre Dell garden and Foggy Bottom, Daisen Inn monastery garden (Kyoto, Japan) and Christopher Lloyd’s Great Dixter. All of which are discussed in his presentation.

2. gardening with nature

A new talk is also offered. A one hour talk and slide show that explores our interest in gardening and the deeper satisfaction that we can get from creating our own special natural sacred space. Reviewing Chinese, Japanese and Persian gardens from his own personal experience and some of the principles underlying these oriental gardens,Taoism and Feng Shui are briefly reviewed.The speakers own garden, Cascades Gardens is examined in the light of Feng Shui and he explains how he has attempted to use Buddhist principles of peace, tranquillity, balance and harmony in his gardens and respect for nature to create his garden.

How to create a garden for relaxation and reflection


  • Why do we garden?
  • History and concept of Paradise gardens.
  • Chinese gardens incorporating the principles of the Tao and Feng Shui
  • Cascades Gardens, reviewed in the light of Feng Shui?
  • Japanese gardens. My visit to Japan in 1996
  • “Just Sitting” with Nature.
  • 3 . JAPANESE GARDENING What is a Japanese garden? How to create a Japanese garden

4. zen gardening: the garden is my teacher

Alan takes you on 25 years of experience and challenge in developing Cascades Gardens, his meditation garden. He explains how the garden has taught him profound lessons about nature and life.

Expressing his initial awe in the beauty and miracle of nature he recognises the need to find the best position and conditions in his high-altitude garden in Derbyshire for every plant, and the increasingly uncertain weather conditions that he has faced in recent times. Tracing the seasons with dramatic photography in the spectacular landscape, that is his garden, he shows how fabulous plants can be when conditions are right.

Exploring the need for creativity and patience, his perception is that when a garden has the chance to become established it develops a harmony and balance that can give enormous satisfaction and peace of mind. His pictures of the quiet places in his garden shows that it can be the perfect place to celebrate nature, to relax, reflect and even meditate on its beauty.

5. A tibetan journey

Talk and slideshow on Tibet by Alan Clements, ex Chairman and now Vice President of the Tibet Relief Fund

After working with the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief fund for many years the speaker gives a very brief outline of Tibetan history, religion and culture. His meetings with the Dalai Lama, trip to Tibet in 1994 and extraordinary visits to the Tibetan settlements in remote parts of northern India is highlighted with his own photographs and tales of his experiences.

The Dalai Lama’s message to the world is profound and yet put simply in terms of compassion for all, non-violence and attention to the most basic human values.

The speaker is well qualified to answer questions after the talk that can cover a wide range of topics related to Tibet.

Talk contents:

  • Meeting the Dalai Lama
  • Tibetan history: a brief review
  • Culture: Buddhism, carpets, dancing, music
  • My trip to Tibet in 1994.
  • Lottery Fund aid to the Tibetan Settlements in India.
  • His Holiness Dalai Lama’s message to the world.
  • Tibetan youth Initiatives in India.


Fees depend on numbers attending and driving distance.

Telephone Alan to discuss the fee on 07967 337404

Zoom or live talks typically £75 per session plus travel costs. Reduced rate may be possible by negotiation.