I am head gardener for a private estate in West Sussex, maintaining the gardens whilst growing fruit vegetables and cut flowers. I regularly speak for the charity Perennial and other organisations, and enjoy teaching at the English Gardening School and West Dean college of Art and Conservation. I write for various publications and have just written my first book; What to Sow, Grow and Do. I’m also a member of the RHS herbaceous committee and director of my own company, The Working Garden, where I am beginning to establish a sustainable five acre market garden.
Tell us about your own garden, or your hopes for it?
My own garden has to be quite self-sufficient. Thankfully it is small, having a sunken lawn and raised seating area for relaxation, edged with small beds and nestled between the house and a large hazel. I mainly grow herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses that require no staking and underplant with bulbs to extend the season. Around the house I have collections of pots, growing shade loving plants as well as a small nursery area for growing on plants for the market garden.
What is your favourite rose?
That’s a tricky one!. For unique colour and cutting I love ‘Hot Chocolate’ and ‘Julia’s Rose’, for the border, for scent it must be the beautiful ‘Gentle Hermione’ and for wilder spaces and romance I couldn’t do without Rosa glauca, ‘Mutabilis’ and the climber ‘Mortimer Sackler’…I could go on!
Which famous garden would you most like to be trapped in overnight?
I would have to say Sissinghurst, I’m intrigued after reading about its after hours bohemian gatherings! Though thinking practically, I would say Ninfa in Italy or Monserrate Palace Gardens in Portugal, for the warm weather coupled with scent of citrus, roses and star jasmine, along with the romantic setting and interesting plants.