1) As a gardener, what inspires and influences you? Is it other designers or are things like colours and textures more influential when you’re working on outdoor spaces?
Anything can inspire me when it comes to designing a garden: the glorious British countryside, modern design and architecture, a beautifully crafted object, even a fruitful conversation or a great glass of wine! I also love looking into history to inform the future. It’s great to understand where we have been and why. Inspiration is all around us, we just need to look and engage.
Some of the people I have been influenced by the most I have used to inspire the gardens I have created at Chelsea Flower Show. These have included the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the iconic house he designed in a woodland overhanging a river called ‘Fallingwater’. He was a fascinating character and a hero of mine – the way he managed to blend nature and the built environment was seamless.
Closer to home, the poet John Clare inspired my 2012 garden. Writing during the early 19th century, he was probably one of the earliest environmental campaigners, living just a few miles down the road from me in Lincolnshire. He had a deep and abiding love of the English countryside and his poems captured nature in its minutest detail, while remaining very easy to read.
Finally, but most importantly, my family are my biggest inspiration. A lot of the gardens I’ve designed are inspired by memories. Thinking about memories and what really is important led me to acknowledge that it’s my family that motivates me to get out of bed every morning and do what I do. And family, from being a kid onwards, is what shapes us. Memories to me are a very important part of the design process, not just looking back on them, but also looking at how we can create them.