Award-winning garden designer Juliet Sargeant might be known for creating some pretty spectacular spaces, but what is her own garden at home in Rottingdean, Brighton, like?
‘My garden is a bit of a laboratory,’ Juliet tells House Beautiful UK. ‘It’s not a designed garden as such, but more a miss-match of plants that I’m trying out. It’s actually quite a challenging garden as it’s by the sea, so it can be a bit of a nightmare to grow things there.’
As many of us begin to prep our outdoor spaces ahead of summer, it can often be a challenge to know where to start. From colour themes to tasty veg patches, there’s a lot to consider – but Juliet knows exactly how to help.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 might be postponed until September (Juliet tells us she is working on an exciting concept for 2022), but there are plenty of ways you can give your own garden that Chelsea nod of approval. We speak to Juliet to find out exactly what we should be doing with our outdoor spaces…
1. Grow your own
Something that is deeply wrapped up in sustainability and climate change, Juliet says it’s brilliant to see people so ‘switched on’ to creating planet-friendly spaces — especially when it comes to growing their own produce.
‘I think people are really interested in food, gardens and a connection with nature,’ says Juliet from her office in West Sussex. ‘I get a lot of people through the Sussex Garden School asking about how do we garden more responsibly and how is climate change going to affect my garden.’
Get your herb garden or veg patch off to a flying start by sowing seeds. If you’re starting in spring, some of the best seeds to get your hands on include broad beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach, tomatoes, and summer cabbage. You’ll have a bumper crop of spectacular salad essentials in no time.
2. Plant more trees
Since the first lockdown, there has been an increase in the number of people getting involved in outdoor projects, such as tree planting. While commonly overlooked in favour of tropical plants and dramatic flowers, trees are crucial for the natural environment.
‘I think people will continue to learn the importance of trees and hopefully will start planting trees in their garden,’ she tells us. ‘Trees are above our eye level, and because we walk underneath them, we don’t think about what they’re doing up there. We usually only take notice of things at our eye level. Trees are so vital to our survival.’
3. Immerse your garden with a variety of plants
Creating a delightful outdoor seating area is about more than just propping up a table and chairs on a patio. To design a leafy escape outside, think about textures, rich scents, glorious plants, and sounds of summer to evoke your senses.
‘Really try and surround the place with plants. Bring the plants around you,’ explains Juliet. ‘When you’re sitting down, what will really relax you is the different textures around you. Let plants become like the walls around you.’
Not sure what plants to opt for? Juliet advises: ‘Stay clear of not only physically spiky things, but avoid plants that are very upright or vertically spiky, too. I would go for more softer, rounder forms. You can’t beat lavender, rosemary and thymus minimus — which is a low-grown thyme which will give you that lovely smell when you run your hand over it. It’s great for a sunny seating area.’
4. Embrace the sound of water
We might not all have the luxury of a garden pond or water fountain, but filling your space with sounds of running water can create a more peaceful place for you to relax at the end of a long day. Not only does the sound of water mask traffic noise, but it can also help to attract more wildlife, too.
‘It’s really about engaging all the senses, creating a space that you can see, smell and hear. It really will help you to switch off from whatever is stressing you out. If you’re able to have a trickle of water, it’s a beautiful sound,’ adds Juliet.
5. Let the bees buzz
Gardens are vital for urban and suburban bees. If you do one thing in your garden this year, give nature a helping hand. Need some inspiration? Leave a patch of the garden to grow wild to allow for nesting and shelter, or alternatively, if you’re feeling creative, make your own bug hotel to provide a place of safety for smaller insects.
Once you’ve incorporated water and plants into your space, Juliet says you’ll soon hear the ‘gentle buzzing of bees and butterflies around you’, which, wherever you live, is quite a wonderful sound. ‘It’s really relaxing, but interests us too,’ says Juliet.
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