Meet the Gardener: Chloe
Tell us a bit about you and when did you started gardening, and why?
I’m Chloe, I just turned 30 am married to a wonderful man and we have a whippet puppy called Wilma.
I lived in a flat and houses with no garden for about 7 years after always having a garden as a kid. Once my husband and I bought a house with a (small!) garden I took it and ran, loving the freedom of having private, outdoor space.
Which gardeners inspire you and why?
In terms of growing vegetables, Charles Dowding is a huge inspiration and I have an allotment on which I follow his ‘no dig’ approach, sowing times, soil management etc.
What's the most ambitious gardening project you've completed or have planned?
I had to think about this one! Probably the transformation of our little garden last year. When we moved in it was mostly gravel, tree stumps and a bit of grass. Last year between my husband and I, we built a patio and decking, extended the grass, removed a load of conifers and have started to build up some beautiful flower beds. We have a lovely homemade planter at the end of the garden too which adds some height.
What is your favourite thing to grow?
I absolutely love herbs, especially unusual ones and have a set of planters with beautiful herbs in. They add so much texture and scent to a garden, complementing beautiful flowers and are often evergreen providing structure in winter.
Anything new you want to try in the next growing season?
I’m trying some new sweet pea varieties including Charlies Angel and Spring Sunshine Champagne. So excited for their beautiful scent!
Last year I grew some hollyhocks which I’m looking forward to the surprise colours this year. As they were from saved seeds my Mum’s garden. I also planted some Sweet William in the autumn for them to flower this summer, they’ll add beautiful structure with white flowers to the garden this summer.
On the allotment I’m growing some new vegetables including Oca, a type of south American tuber which apparently tastes a bit like a lemony new potato and lots of leafy greens like Pak Choi.
Where is your favourite garden in the world, and why?
My favourite garden in the world is Taman Ujung in Bali, known to tourists as ‘the water palace’. We visited it on honeymoon and it’s beautiful with bridges over lily covered ponds and arches running along terraced gardens which if you climb them have views for miles.
In the UK, my Mum’s garden in Bedfordshire holds a special place in my heart. She’s taught me so much and helped my many times identify whether something is a weed or a plant as I’ve been learning! My parents have a B&B (closed now due to Covid) with some pictures of her garden if anyone fancies a snoop at www.riversidelodgebedford.co.uk.
What do you wish you'd known earlier about gardening?
A couple of things I guess:
Soil is the most important thing. If you don’t look after your soil then you can put as much time as you like into your plants but over time they just won’t do well.
Work with nature and not against it. Don’t start things too early to get ahead as actually there probably isn’t enough light and the seedlings will be weak. Yes you can use a grow light but working with the seasons is better where possible!
What advice would you give someone new to gardening?
Take your time or it can be overwhelming! Try two or three things to start with and go from there, it’s a marathon not a sprint and a garden is never done. Working slowly helps build a garden that works long-term.
Also, visit the garden centre once a month (obviously if covid guidance allows!) so you can see what’s flowering or could add colour. If you then buy one thing or take down a name and grow it from seed then you will have a garden that looks beautiful year round.
When not gardening, what do you like doing?
Aside from gardening I love to play hockey and am the communications manager for the club I play at too. We’re having a really great season so fingers crossed we can get back on the pitch and finish it off!
I’m lucky to live in Northamptonshire where the countryside is amazing. I love walking the dog and spending time in the fresh air taking in gorgeous landscapes and villages.
I love to travel but we’ve bought a ‘doer upper’ house so our time and money has been spent on that. Lockdown has sped up our progress though so fingers crossed that later this year or next we can get back to our travel and see some beautiful places.
I’m a marketing manager for a large, online pharmacy which is a really interesting job as well as running a website design and marketing consultancy business, WEIRDesign.