Meet the Gardener: @nicoleatcherrygarden

Nicole has an incredible account which is flower HEAVEN! Self confessed Dahlia-aholic, what she doesn't know about Dahlias isn't worth knowing. She has shared so many tips and tricks which I have used in the garden and is an all-round lovely person. Give her a follow @nicoleatcherrygarden (but only if you're ready for serious Dahlia envy!)

Tell us a bit about you and when you started gardening and why?

My name is Nicole and I grow flowers from my allotment and garden in Cambridgeshire, with the occasional veggie thrown in for good measure! I dabble in a bit of floristry and love using my home grown flowers in my arrangements.  

I’ve always loved flowers but I never used to be much of an outdoor type of person so apart from a few bedding plants I didn’t really do much until about 4 or 5 years ago when I was scrolling on Instagram and clapped eyes on the most beautiful flower I’d ever seen, a Cafe au Lait dahlia. Of course I wanted one straight away, rang the florist and realised they weren’t really a flower you could easily buy as they don’t travel well. Not one to be defeated, I was determined to grow one! I got myself a couple of tubers and I’ve never looked back! I was soon hooked on the feeling you get from growing something beautiful from next to nothing and the next thing I knew I’d signed up for a plot at my local allotments. 

What’s the most ambitious gardening project you have completed or planned?

Taking on an allotment was definitely ambitious for me having only really done a small bit of gardening in a border or in containers for about a year. My husband definitely thought I was having some sort of early-30s crisis but I just threw myself into it and gave myself a lot of leeway for the first year to learn how to work with such a big space and four years on I’m itching to get a bigger space which I can’t wait to plan out. 

What is your favourite thing to grow?

There’s only one answer to this question: dahlias!! I’ve been addicted since the first day I saw one and I love how this ugly tuber that looks like a potato produces the most incredibly beautiful blooms. I never get bored of them because there are so many different kinds out there, every season I try new varieties alongside my favourites.

Anything new you would like to try in the next growing season?

This year I’m trying a few new things from seed which I’ve never grown before including larkspur and eryngium. Apparently I like to give myself a challenge as I’ve been told they’re not the easiest but gardening is definitely about the journey as much as the output so I always enjoy trying something new!

Where is your favourite garden in the world and why?

Oooh this is a tough one! But not too far away from where I live is a National Trust property, called Anglesey Abbey, and they have the most incredible walled dahlia garden which is an absolute dream to see.

What do you wish you’d known earlier about gardening?

Not everything survives! You can be as diligent as possible and some things just don’t make it.  

What advice would you give to someone new to gardening?

Enjoy it and don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong! As I said in the previous question, not everything will always go your way, and sometimes Mother Nature just isn’t your bestie! I always plant more than I need just in case and just try and roll with it when things don’t go as planned.

When not gardening what do you like doing?

Aside from all the usual things like spending time with my family and friends, I love to travel. The current situation is driving me nuts and I can’t wait to get back on a plane when all is safe. My favourite place to visit is America, California is somewhere I’d go back to every chance I could. I also have family all over the place so it gives me a good excuse! 

Anything else you’d like to share?

For anyone feeling like they want to start growing flowers and don’t know where to start there’s so much help out there by way of books and YouTube and the flower community on Instagram especially is really supportive, it’s how I first started learning. Come find me @nicoleatcherrygarden. I also co-host a podcast dedicated to growing cut flowers called Let’s Grow, Girls where we have gardeners and flower farmers on from all over the world to talk us through growing some of the most popular cut flower plants - Lizzie will be joining us soon! I’d love it if you gave us a listen!

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