February 15, 2016

Here at UO, we’ve got all things plants on the brain. We’re happy to say the end of winter is nigh; we’ve endured the long, grey months and are excited to finally see the sun dancing out from behind the clouds. With the arrival of sunnier days, we’ve been bundling up and heading outside to enjoy London’s green spaces and buying up all the flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market.

We’re looking to bring the outside in by creating some florally fragrant havens at home. With that in mind, we caught up with John Tebbs of The Garden Edit to get his top tips on creating your own urban garden, being in touch with the natural world and his favourite green spaces in London.

UO: Can you tell us a little about the story of The Garden Edit so far?

The Garden Edit was an idea to present the world of gardening in a more relatable way to a younger, more design conscious audience. Through our journal, we publish stories that show a variety of gardens, not just the typical perfect image of the garden we are generally presented with. As a gardener, what interests me most is the process of the garden, not necessarily the finished product.

UO: Is your love for the natural world a family trait, or one you’ve fostered independently?

Very much a family trait – I come from a big gardening family, parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles. It was probably the main topic of conversation I grew up with. Luckily I was in to it too! I guess it could have gone either way!

UO: How would you describe the aesthetic of The Garden Edit?

I suppose the aesthetic is quite personal to me; I choose and source everything so it is a real reflection of what I am interested in. A new selection is added in April each year so the aesthetic is constantly evolving as I discover new makers or am influenced by other factors. If I were to sum up the ethos of the product choices it would be that of quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness.

UO: What are the things you love most about gardening?

The pace and rhythm of being in touch with the natural world are something I find very grounding. In a world that is so fast paced and constant, it is nice to know you can’t really rush or control too much of what is happening in the garden – accepting those outside influences and working with them is good for the mind. Gardening constantly reminds you of the bigger picture, the seasons and the wider environment, and the beauty of it all I guess.

UO: Can you tell us about your favourite green spaces in London?

We are really lucky to live in such a green city and the choice of parks and gardens is huge. Something I particularly enjoy is other peoples front gardens or balconies – I love it when you walk down a street and you are struck by the variety of those gardens and the love that goes into some of them, they are often quite personal reflections of the owner. In terms of parks, we live close to Richmond and Bushy parks so these are the ones that I make the most of. Both of them are big enough to feel as if you have totally left the city behind.

UO: What are the biggest challenges of urban gardening?

For me, the biggest challenge I have found with urban gardening is transience. We seem to move so many times even if we live in just one city. A garden is something that can be a slow process, and numerous times I have put energy into a garden space and just as I am beginning to like what I see I have to move. I now have everything in pots so it’s all ready to go! Gardening in pots also has its downsides though – in summer things dry out more quickly and things can often outgrow their pots pretty quickly! Having said that, I always enjoy the garden space I have no matter how small or brief the time there.

UO: Do you have any tips for someone looking to create their own urban garden?

I would say give it a go! The best thing to do is some research on what is suitable to the space you have, whether that is indoors or out. There are so many books and places online to find info: what plants like particular situations, light levels, warmth etc. It really is just a case of trying some things out. The best thing to do with gardening is to get your hands dirty.

UO: Do you think the nature of gardening has changed with the onset of twenty first century technology? Does this impact your approach to gardening?

I don’t think technology has changed gardening for the average gardener – it certainly has for commercial growers. I think the great thing about technology is that it has meant gardeners have been able to communicate much more. Often gardening can be quite a solitary pursuit, especially when you do it for a living – a common complaint often heard among professional gardeners is the loneliness of the job, but social media has meant people are much more engaged with each other, sharing pictures on Instagram and feeling part of a bigger community of people gardening.

UO: Current favourite plant?

As we are currently in the depths of winter my choices are less, but those plants that do make the effort to flower in the winter are all the more appreciated for it! Two winter favourites of mine are Hellebores and Hamamelis; the latter has the most wonderful spicy smell and the flowers can last for up to six weeks, no mean feat when it’s freezing outside!

UO: Where do you want to take The Garden Edit next?

A new collection of products in April, including our own seed range. Continuing to find and meet lots more people who are into plants and gardens and sharing those through our Journal. Potentially a book, and lots of other exciting things on the horizon for this year and beyond!

See more from The Garden Edit