So how did you get into gardening then, Johnnie?
I grew up in a small village in the countryside and was lucky enough to spend most of my childhood outside. My mum, Angela Collins, is an amazing garden designer. I remember when she started, I watched her transform our garden around us. We developed our veg garden at home together, she’s a constant source of inspiration, and a daily guide on my own ideas and projects.
We’re hearing gardening is pretty popular these days – what’s going on?
I think many people took the opportunity to pause during lockdown and realised the incredible benefits of spending time in nature, including taking care of our own outdoor spaces. Being in nature is a great respite from the hustle and bustle of life – and from our phones. It helps me mentally too – being able to grow things to feed myself and loved ones gives me immense satisfaction. There are also always new things to discover when gardening, which keeps life moving and goes against the grain of our focus on fast consumerism.
What’s new and trendy in gardening right now?
People are really focusing on the soil. On a large scale, over the decades, our use of chemicals and the mass production and industrialisation of farming has really had a negative impact on soil health. People are looking at regenerative ways to farm and grow things that improve soil health. This applies to home gardens too. Growing a mix of cover crops over winter to add nitrogen and nutrients to the soil, and focusing on less disruption of the soil to keep the structure, instead of breaking it up each spring, are both things you can do to help create a healthy garden.
What does anyone need to consider when thinking about a garden revamp?
The soil, the light, how much time you have, and your resources. And what you want out of it – do you want to grow vegetables to eat? Or do you want somewhere easy to hang out?