Meet the Gardener: Becky @gardenthings_
I met Becky at BBC Gardeners' World Live and have been following her gardening account online. Becky's passion for all things horticulture is clear- and I'm certain we will be seeing more of her and her gardening inspiration over the coming years! Iv'e loved reading about her love of Dahlias and how her grandma's have inspired her to get into gardening.
Tell us a bit about you and when did you start gardening, and why?
Hi, I’m Becky, a 15 year old gardener with a passion for plants, horticulture, flowers, vegetables, and growing things! I am a fairly new gardener, but spend all of my free time out in the garden – you could definitely say that I’ve been “bitten by the gardening bug!”
Having lived in a house with a large garden for the duration of my life, I have always been exposed to nature and wildlife in some way or another. However, it was only at the start of lockdown (March 2020) that I really got into it and began to learn more and delve deeper into the principles of gardening: seed sowing, pruning etc. But it’s no longer just an interest and now a mild obsession; our family garden is now often referred to as “Becky’s flower beds,” “Becky’s meadow” or “Becky’s veg patch!” (Except for my Dad’s lawn – that I do not claim.) So it’s fair to say I have somewhat taken control.
I am so inspired by gardens I have visited and gardeners I have met that I am now considering pursuing a career in horticulture – I have no idea yet where that will take me, but I know I will always be doing something I love!
Which gardeners inspire you and why?
There are so many gardeners out there who inspire me greatly, but if I had to choose just one it would have to be Monty Don. I heard him speak at Gardener’s World Live last week and was just so inspired by his attitude and beliefs towards horticulture and wildlife. I have read his most recent book “The Complete Gardener” cover to cover (and more!) and I love the thoughtful approach he takes to even the smallest of garden tasks. Longmeadow is stunning, and I would have to say that it’s on my life-long bucket list of gardens to visit! I adore the layout and character of the garden, and the way you can tell the amount of care and love that has been put into it.
On a more personal level, I would say that my two Grandmothers (my Grandma and my Granny) have both inspired me as a gardener respectively. From seeds and cuttings to tips and advice, they helped my kick-start my love of gardening and I honestly don’t know where I would be without them (even if I’m now the one giving tips and advice – just joking!) They have both taken me to the most beautiful of gardens, and visiting gardens is perhaps one of the most inspiring things you can do as a new and young gardener. Oh yes, and I would have to mention the countless trips to the local garden centres I have made on weekends with my Granny, who knows what my garden would be looking like without all those new plants!
What's the most ambitious gardening project you've completed or have planned?
As a fairly new gardener gardening in a fairly established garden, there hasn’t been anything overly ambitious as of yet! However, it has taken lots of work to make the garden my own, and re-arranging borders and changing colour schemes is not as easy as it sounds! I started my own wildflower meadow at the start of 2021 (which was a mini project in itself) and have been astounded by the diversity of wildlife that I have attracted. I also planted loads of bulbs last year and have ordered even more to plant this Autumn, so I am steadily improving my garden over time
In the future, I want to plant my own ‘Dahlia Beach’ (those who follow Andie on Instagram will know what I’m talking about!) and a greenhouse is also on the list too. I am also really inspired by No Dig vegetable growing (I currently grow mine in raised beds) so that’s also another project in itself.
What is your favourite thing to grow?
Dahlias. I just love them, the range of colours, forms and sizes they come in is mind-blowing – and each one is so beautiful (I personally have never seen an ugly dahlia!) They also bridge that awkward gap between Summer and Autumn so beautifully, what more could you want! Those who know me know that I could talk for hours about dahlias.
In terms of vegetables, I love tomatoes, although I really haven’t been very successful with them this year. In terms of success levels though, I love lettuce and there’s nothing better than a fresh, homegrown salad in high Summer.
I’m also a houseplant grower, and have over 20 in my bedroom! They have so many benefits with regards to air purification and health, as well as looking lovely. Why not bring your garden indoors?
Anything new you want to try in the next growing season?
Yes, quite a few things actually! I find myself always experimenting and trying out planting combinations as well as trying different varieties of my favourite plants. Recently I have discovered the benefit of grasses in a border, the versatility of them paired with tall perennials and the structure they will provide in Winter is just incomparable. So definitely more grasses next year.
I also have recently began to love cut flowers, and I must admit this was partly started by the great success that has been my Rose Press Garden sweet peas! (Yes, they’re still going strong in early September.) Like houseplants, cut flowers area beautiful way to bring the outside in, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than picking and arranging flowers I have grown from seed – try it, it’s so rewarding! So cut flower seeds are also on my list.
I mentioned earlier I enjoy to grow lettuce and salad leaves, and there is such a vast variety of cultivars out there I can’t wait to experiment more with different flavours. The seed list is beginning to become rather lengthly!
Where is your favourite garden in the world, and why?
My garden. There is nowhere else I feel as content and at home, and I always love to show people around it and tell them what I’ve been getting up to!
Otherwise, it would have to be RHS Wisley. I became an RHS Member in December 2020 and since then have visited Wisley a total of 5 (soon to be 6) times! I love watching it change throughout the seasons and there is always so much inspiration to take, there is something spectacular to see at all points of the year.
What do you wish you'd known earlier about gardening?
Gardening is for young people too!!!!!!! So many times gardening is deemed as being “for old people” and I have held back from telling people I garden for fear of being called an “old lady” or being told it’s “uncool.” In my opinion there’s nothing cooler or more fulfilling than planting and caring for your own garden, the benefits to both you and the planet are impossible to ignore!
It doesn’t help that gardening is so underrepresented in a secondary school environment, the greenhouses at my school…. brace yourself…. sit unused, untouched and overgrown. I’m itching to have the authority to do something about it! No wonder younger people interested in horticulture are the minority.
What advice would you give someone new to gardening?
Get stuck in, find your own style, read as many books and magazines as you can get your hands on and don’t be afraid to give it a go!
When not gardening, what do you like doing?
I presume “gardening” encompasses visiting gardens and the garden centre all the time, ordering an unhealthy amount of catalogues and chatting to people on instagram!? (Basically what I spend all my time doing!)
But other than “gardening’, I love music and go to as many concerts as I can, and I’m lucky enough to live not too far from London so have done countless day trips there. I am also very interested in Fashion Design, which (who knows) may have influenced my interest in the creative design aspect of horticulture.
But at the end of the day, I’m a gardener at heart!