With over 45 acres of parkland, a walled garden, a woodland walk and award-winning landscaped gardens, Sutton Park has a lot to offer, and a lot to look after. Taking the helm is Sutton Park Head Gardener Michal Banaszak, who shares with us his plans for all things outdoors at the estate, as well as his advice for budding gardeners.

“There’s so much going on here, you can’t be bored!”

michal banaszak Sutton Park head gardener

Michal Banaszak, Head Gardener at Sutton Park

What brought you to Sutton Park?

I came to the UK from Poland seventeen years ago as a student to get a work experience. I worked at a bedding plants nursery, and then for a garden landscaping company, where my passion for gardening really began. A couple of years later, I took a job as the sole gardener at the Royal York Hotel. It was when I turned 35 that I felt it was time to take progress my career further. I successfully applied for the Head Gardener position at Sutton Park, and have been here for six years.

How have the grounds changed since you came on board?

When I started to work here I was bit overwhelmed by the state of the park. The grounds had been somewhat neglected by previous contractors, there were lots of brambles and ivy everywhere. You couldn’t even see the top of the statue on the middle terrace! With the help of an apprentice every year, we have been working on new projects and undertaking fresh planting. I started by replanting borders on the top terrace and rescued the fernery, as it had become overgrown by bracken. Now we have so many different varieties of ferns, hostas and tree ferns growing among old branches found in our wood. It’s one of my favourite spots – it makes me feel like I’m in the jungle!

I’ve redesigned the bamboo border because it was full of overgrown shrubs. In the walled garden, instead of cutting the grass level, I’ve left some uncut patches which grow wild and give it a ‘meadow’ feel. It’s a perfect spot to have a picnic!

What are you working on at the moment?

This winter, together with my assistant John Jackson, we started revamping the front of the house, and that work is just concluding now. It’s a formal design with a woodland twist. Old paving has been replaced by formal borders with topiaries, golden grass and ferns. We’re also currently working on redesigning the borders in the middle and top terraces. The grounds here are always evolving!

What do you like the best about Sutton Park?

I love that there is so much going on. You can’t be bored here, that’s for sure!

What surprises are to be found in the grounds here?

When I saw Sutton Park for a first time, the biggest surprise was to see a Redwood Sequoia, just like you can see in Yellowstone Park, USA, but only ten minutes from York! There are many more, but it wont be surprise if I tell you!

What three tips can you share with any budding gardeners?

  1. If the weather permits, do as much you can do in winter. It’s a good time to prepare flower beds for planting, straighten out the edges of the lawn or paint a bench.
  2. Stick to the plan. Finish one task then move to another. In summer, when it’s busier, there’s a lot going on in the garden and it’s easy to get carried away.
  3. Find a time to enjoy the garden and what you’ve done. At the end of the day, gardening is a pleasure, even if it’s hard work.

How would you like to see the grounds evolve in future?

I’d like to see Sutton Park as a place where more families come to spend quality time with each other, and to relax. It’s also a beautiful setting for weddings or bigger events – it would be wonderful to see more of those here in these grounds.

How would you describe Sutton Park in three words?

Unique family home and garden (ok, that’s five words!)


If you’re interested in hosting an outdoor event or wedding in Sutton Park’s grounds, take a look at our information for private hire. For details on when our gardens are open to the public, please click here.