NB. I wrote this article about space2grow in Farnham, before the COVID-19 crisis started and quarantine measures were put in place.  Naturally, all of space2grow’s clubs and activities are closed at the moment, but this fantastic initiative will reopen when it is safe to do so.

Space2grow: community gardening in Farnham, Surrey

For every problem we experience in life, nature provides us with the ingredients we need to heal ourselves. 

Jackie Currie and her National Collection of Allium Species and Cultivars

Garden designer Jackie Currie, runs Euphorbia Design with her business partner, Lorraine Cooke.  Together they design and revitalise gardens in the Surrey area.  Jackie enjoys growing many plants, but her real passion is for Alliums.  She’s utterly devoted to this genus of plants, so much so, that Jackie’s garden and allotments are packed full and beautifully planted with thousands of Alliums. 

It’s so wonderful to see how plants and gardens can bring people together.  Garden designer, David Neale designed and built the Silent Pool Gin Garden, for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.  This urban garden celebrates the transformative power of plants, demonstrating how even a small, awkwardly shaped garden, in the centre of town, can be an oasis of calm; a place where city dwellers can relax and unwind. 

Garden Designer, Andrew Duff, sculptor David Harber, and Estate Agents Savills have worked together to produce a Show Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.  This garden was created with a shared desire to demonstrate how to add useful and effective, natural beauty to improve urban areas by creating sustainable woodland gardens.  The Savills and David Harber Garden comes complete with all the features that we look for in a beautiful garden, including: a pond, specimen trees, plants, and sculpture.

I always look forward to seeing Medwyn and Gwenda Wiliams, they’re such lovely people.  So, it was wonderful to be with Medwyn and Gwenda, to celebrate their amazing 12th consecutive Gold Medal win, for their incredible display of vegetables, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019!

It’s quite an amazing feat to produce full size vegetables at the end of May, when many growers haven’t yet sown most of their seeds and don’t dare to plant their tomatoes or anything tender outside, for fear of frost! 

Millais Nurseries and Exbury Gardens, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 Millais Nurseries

One of the loveliest things about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is getting the chance to see amazing plants and having the opportunity to speak to plant experts.  If you’re interested in Rhododendrons and Azaleas, David Millais is the man to talk to.  David’s the Chairman of the Rhododendron, Camellia, and Magnolia Group, and the owner of Millais Nurseries in Churt, near Farnham, in Surrey.

The Silent Pool Gin Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 Designer, David Neale New plant technology

Garden designer, David Neale, has focused on his desire to green up difficult city spaces and discover new plant technologies in his design for the Silent Pool Gin Garden.  The idea for this garden, is to take an unloved, perhaps rather awkward space, and add plant life and inspiration, to create a garden that is uplifting and awe inspiring. 

Hogarth Hostas at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

I am always hoping to meet a new favourite plant at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but as well as plants, I enjoy finding some of my favourite people at Chelsea.  Jonathan Hogarth is one of my favourites; he’s utterly bonkers about Hostas!  Jonathan holds a National Collection of Miniature Hostas, he also runs Hogarth Hostas – a specialist Hosta nursery. 

I adored the dreamy quintessential country cottage garden that Mark Gregory designed and built for the Yorkshire Tourist Board, at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show.  I was utterly charmed both by Mark’s design and the quality of the construction of this idyllic garden.

I wasn’t the only one to fall in love with Mark’s 2018 Chelsea garden: the RHS judges presented the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden with a Gold Medal and the Best Construction Award; while the public voted the Yorkshire Garden as the winner of the People’s Choice Award.  

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

I cherish every special, magical moment when I meet a person with whom I share a deep connection and enjoy a true and meaningful, lasting friendship.  One such fellow, whom I am very fortunate to call a close friend, is the horticulturist, broadcaster, journalist, author, plantsman and nature lover, John Negus.  John is a truly wonderful man, he is an expert gardener and horticulturist; John never fails to inspire me! 

Plant Heritage are a plant conservation charity, based in Guildford, that encourage horticulturists, botanists, and gardeners to grow, propagate, share, and conserve a wide range of plants to protect and safeguard the variety of plants we have available to grow and enjoy.  This year, Plant Heritage are celebrating their 40th anniversary, so to mark the occasion they asked garden designer Jackie Currie to create an exhibit for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, to publicise the value of Plant Heritage’s work.

I love to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for me this is the most prestigious and exciting event of the horticultural calendar!  I enjoy seeing Chelsea’s show gardens of every size and style, I am always interested to discover the latest gardening products, and I really look forward to finding new favourite plants, whilst being reminded of old favourites.  I so enjoy visiting Chelsea’s Grand Pavilion, which is filled with over one hundred exhibits created by expert growers, from nurseries that seem to specialise in growing almost every kind of plant.

Through my work I have become very well acquainted with so many fascinating plants, but I have also enjoyed getting to know some interesting people, many of whom I have met at the different gardens I have visited.  I hold a deep affection for the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, I am a great fan and supporter of Kew’s work in conservation and plant science, and I love to visit the beautiful glasshouses and gardens at Kew; Kew’s plant collections amaze and delight me! 

It’s so important to appreciate, look after and cherish every square inch of earth, every inch of our planet.  For those living in town centres or cities, or areas where outdoor space is at a premium, it can sometimes be hard to find inspiration of how to green up and make the most of the limited areas of ground, roof, or wall space that are available. 

Garden designer Dr Catherine MacDonald devised the Seedlip Garden as a celebration of the pea – Pisum sativum.  The Seedlip Garden features peas and plants related to peas – plants from the pea plant family – Fabaceae.  This Space to Grow Garden also honours the work of three men and their work in relation to peas.  The first man that the Seedlip Garden commemorates is Gregor Mendel (1822-1824). 

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden

At this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show I couldn’t wait to visit the Welcome to Yorkshire show garden, which was designed by Mark Gregory and built by Mark and Landform Consultants.  This show garden took a picturesque, heart-warming view of the Yorkshire countryside to the centre of London, where I was there, ready to welcome the garden with open arms! 

Daisy Roots is a small, independent nursery, run by Anne Godfrey in Hertfordshire.  Anne Godfrey specialises in growing drought tolerant, hardy perennials and ornamental grasses, which Anne propagates herself from seeds and cuttings, at her nursery in Hertford.  All of the plants sold by Daisy Roots are hardy, healthy, and drought resistant.

Last year, I celebrated Daisy Roots Gold Medal win at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, where I loved the beautiful irises, Verbascums, Anthemis, Aquilegias, and ornamental grasses that made up the nursery’s Gold Medal winning display! 

At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show every single show garden, in every category has the opportunity to win a Gold Medal.  There are no limitations on the number of Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver, or Bronze medals that the judges can award, nor is there a requirement for any medal to be awarded – if none of the gardens are of Gold Medal standard, then no Gold Medals will be presented. 

I have been waiting for this moment for some time now!  I spoke to David Neale in 2015 about his ambition and aspiration to design and build a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, so I was really excited when David told me that he would be building a show garden for the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show!  I have now visited David at the Chelsea Flower Show, I am so happy to tell you, that the Silent Pool Gin Garden was awarded a Silver-Gilt Medal by the RHS judges at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018!