As a child, I followed my parents around the garden, graduating from mud pies to digging ponds and spending my pocket money – which I increased by tending to neighbours’ plots – on gardening books and plants for my parents, and me, to enjoy. I derived a lot of pleasure from this shared obsession, and some pain, too: our boundaries were not clear! So, when you’ve spent months experimentally layering a Ribes Sanguineum (flowering currant), removing it from the parent plant and planting it out – only for your mother to pull it up – you form a resilience that only hardened gardeners know. This resilience would be tested to the limit, years later, as I came to terms with her death and the path that it lead me down. (See Surviving or Thriving?) Although my mother never got to see the garden, which has nurtured my recovery and channelled my chi, she’s been a big part of this journey and continues to exert an influence through a shared mental makeup and her legacy of compassion.
My Father used to be a keen fisherman – an obsession that I never shared, particularly after being left unattended, on a riverbank in Tenbury Wells, around the age of 5 or 6. Luckily, I was still fast asleep when my absence was noted and the car made a hasty u-turn to collect me, none the worse for the experience, but I liked to play on the story during adolescent altercations! Despite this oversight we did, however, find common ground in the life-giving waters of future ponds, where fish, and all manner of weird and wonderful creatures, made their home. Perhaps it’s an innate desire to shape the land and harness a habitat, but I’ve always had a deep affinity for water and its calming effect. As well as soothing the soul, water brings me closer to nature through the biodiversity that it brings. It’s a game changer in any garden.
I grew up watching The Good Life, and once owned hens with movie star names, although the simple life eluded me whilst I worked my way through the education system, culminating in a BA (Hons) in Art and Design from the University of Suffolk. Shortly after this, I cut my teeth in broadcasting, initially, at the BBC, before joining ITV as a Broadcast Graphic Designer, where I subsequently art directed for the Promotions Department. Nearly 10 years on and I was knocking on the doors of interior design consultancies, where I plied my wares as a freelance designer, providing in-house graphic design support and on-site styling at show homes UK-wide. Within a couple of years I’d bought my first home and set to work stamping my mark on the outside, but at the expense of the inside. I quote: “God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.” I’m now playing catch-up!