To celebrate National Gardening Week, we chat to none other than one of the country's top garden designers - Jo Thompson.
Jo is a huge name in the world of gardening. Her credentials include being the recipient of four Gold and five Silver Gilt medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as well as being a member of the RHS Gardens Committee. Naturally, we wanted to get her growing advice to help us get out gardens in top shape. Here's what she had to say.
What are three must-do tasks to get your garden/outdoor space spring-summer ready?
1) Get the edging tidied up around any flowerbeds - easier to do while the ground is still soft.
2) Move all your pots of bulbs to the front of displays so that you can appreciate the flowers as each bulb comes in to flower.
3) Plant your summer bulbs - at Colour My Garden (Jo's flower bulb subscription box service), we are busy putting together people’s packages for May despatch. We're working on some rather unusual and fabulous gladioli collections for people to enjoy. We're trying to convert everyone to the joys of year-round colour through the use of bulbs through the year.
What tips would you give to someone with a smaller/urban garden space to make the most out of it?
Don't clutter it! An odd number of pots - maybe one in one corner and two in another, is enough. Use successional planting through the season, and fill gaps between bulbs with pretty relaxed bedding like little Daisy flowers and Forget-Me-Nots, for example.
What outdoor plants would you recommend for beginners?
Roses are a favourite of ours and the English roses by David Austin are disease-free and wonderfully rewarding. Plant some hardy geraniums such as Johnson’s Blue beneath them, together with the lovely lavender flowers of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’. Interspersed with alliums, this creates a fabulous effect and really is very easy.
What’s your number one tip for first-time gardeners or for those who are unsure where to begin with their outdoor space?
Ask a planting designer or garden designer for advice - they’re a friendly bunch and can avoid costly mistakes later down the line.
What’s your favourite thing about getting outside into the garden?
Just being amongst the green is so uplifting, as is the range of colour through the seasons, and seeing daily changes.
Any sources of inspiration you have that you think others would find helpful when revamping their outdoor space?
Instagram is a great source - looking at people who enjoy using colour such as artists and interior designers.