Interview with Justin Scott – The suburban gardener
We interview GardenTags member number 11 (we’re now at over 100,000!) Justin Scott. Justin who lives in the London suburbs and is trying to make his garden a sanctuary away from his day job in the big smoke. Over to you Justin…
1. There was a twinkle in your gardening eye at a young age. What or who inspired the start of your growing story?
My earliest memories of gardening are from when I was a small child staying with my grandparents. They had a conservatory attached to the house and the windowsills were filled with geraniums which used to give off this incredible scent. I used to collect the dead leaves and flowers as my Nan pruned them and I remember being fascinated by the fact that if I rubbed them together, my hands smelt the same.
2. You’ve a whopping 160 plants logged in your GardenTags account. Is that healthy?
Ha! My obsession with plants came to the fore when we bought our first house in Surbiton over 10 years ago. It had previously been two flats and the garden hadn’t been touched in years and was a complete mess. After I’d dug out new beds, I’d buy something each month I liked the look of, took it home and planted it. Over a period of seven years, I had many successes and a lot of failures but I ended up with a garden which I truly loved.
3. Your first experiences of the RHS have only been in the last 12 months through GardenTags Meet Ups – How was it for you?
In the last year I have been lucky enough to visit the RHS Chelsea flower show for the first time. I arranged to meet a number of other GardenTags members and we spent the day absorbing all that was on show. It’s such a wonderful experience to spend the day with like-minded people which GardenTags enabled to happen and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was the perfect backdrop to make online friends a reality. We all got on wonderfully, spurred on by our mutual love for plants and gardens. We all loved the show gardens but were particularly pleased that we were able to attend a private talk on the Hillier Spring Garden. It was fascinating.
In the last year I have also visited the RHS Hampton Court show (twice!) as well as RHS Wisley. Wisley I love simply because you feel like you’re in a completely different world, away from the hubbub of suburban life and to me, it’s a quiet haven and sanctuary which I can wander about in and just feel at peace. A wonderful place to escape.
4. Show off or keep off. Is your garden your own private sanctuary for peace and reflection or would you rather share it to inspire others?
To me it’s both. I really value the time I spend outdoors and my appreciation of plants and what nature is capable of is actually pretty cool and awe inspiring. I also find gardening therapeutic. It’s great to get your hands dirty but for me it’s also about helping plants to grow and nature to survive and that makes me feel good.
5. If money were no object what would be your luxury garden purchase (e.g. water feature, prized orchid etc)
The one thing I really would love to do, is build a permanent seating area with raised beds and an open fire pit to warm your feet on, on cooler evenings.
6. Let us into the secret… Where do you get your garden design inspiration from? We won’t tell, promise.
I take great inspiration from RHS Wisley, particularly the wide beds filled with grasses intermixed with other colourful flowers. These are clearly on a much larger scale than I could manage but I hope to be able to recreate something similar when maybe we get more garden to play with.
7. Please don’t be shy, we all learn from our mistakes… What has been your biggest planting failure?
When we moved into the house, there was an old and very established climbing rose which covered a lot of the old pipework and arched over the front door. The following year some builders were quite brutal with it and unfortunately, no matter what I’ve tried since, the rose has not recovered and each year since has suffered from powdery mildew which this year has crippled it to the extent that leaves, buds and some branches looked completely disfigured. This winter I will significantly prune it in a last ditch attempt to bring it to its former glory.
8. And now you can show off… What’s been your biggest planting success?
Establishing a garden from scratch with no real experience and learning on the job has been one of my greatest achievements.
9. If you had to be sent to a desert island (well, an island with favourable growing conditions) what plant would you take and why?
A Calycanthus × raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ which is a shrub I saw for the first time at RHS Chelsea this year and immediately knew I had to find a place for it in my garden. I had to extend one of my beds to get this in – who needs grass anyway!
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This guest blog is part of our Growing Stories guest blog series. If you have a story to tell please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to take part.
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