Images shot by Annie Green-Armytage
From mowing the lawn to fighting off pests and weeds, gardening in the summer can seem rather daunting. That’s why we’ve turned to Kate Savill and Tamara Laver, both Garden Designers who have just finished exhibiting at one of our favourite events to kick off the summer - Chelsea Flower Show 2018.
See the full interview below….
Tell us how it all began, how did you both meet?
Kate - It all began in 2015, when Tamara and I were finalists in the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition. Working side by side with our individual show gardens, we were camping next door as well working, so got to know each other really well. We also noticed that there was a lot of similarity in our work and having had plenty of time to chat about our business and ambitions, realised that working together on some bigger projects would be great fun as well as really exciting.
What drove you both to pursue careers as Garden Designers?
Kate - For me I felt like it was connecting the dots, I completed a Fine Art degree but felt more lost after finishing it than I did before, so I ran away to South East Asia. At this point I was worrying about what I was going to do, I was very close to applying for a PGCE but after volunteering for a charity that was helping safe guard the rainforests over there I realised that the combination of being outdoors, practical work and horticulture not only complimented my artistic skills but I so loved the design side of gardening. Following my return to the UK I completed a Homebase Academy apprenticeship in Horticulture and secured a job working for Adam Frost.
Tamara- Throughout school I always had lots of things on the go and used to get bored really easily. I loved art, sport, the sciences but could never stick to just one thing. I also loved being outside and always had a collection of primulas or cacti on the go. Still having no idea what to do on completing my A-Levels I made a considered, but random decision to train as an Arborist. I absolutely loved this combination of science and practical work, but I also found it really fun when specifying street tree planting schemes and would often be experimenting with colour. A few years of meandering through Arboriculture and Horticulture I still felt fidgety and looking for the next thing to do. Fortunately I was given the opportunity to train as a gardener at the royal Sandringham Estate, during this time I got to design, source and build a show garden as part of my training. Having never been to a flower show before this was quite an eye opener. A visit to Chelsea set me on a route towards garden design and now I cant imagine doing anything else.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
Kate - People, places and pyjamas!
Tamara - Generally I find it tends to be a combination of the site and the clients brief, sometimes this can be quite ambitions, so it is really great to get something challenging to work on.
This year you designed the beautiful ‘Warner Edwards Garden’ together, what’s the story behind it?
Our garden is inspired by Falls Farm, home to the Warner Edwards Gin Distillery. Nestled in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside. This scenic slice of rural England is where the Warner family distil each bottle of Warner Edwards Gin.
Our choice of planting reflects the amazing natural ingredients used to create Warner Edwards gins. Many of these ingredients, like elderflower, rosemary, borage and sage, grow in the Farm’s Botanical Garden, hedgerows and surrounding land.
The garden’s topography is inspired by Falls Farm’s dramatic stepped grass landscape, settled on the remains of a medieval terraced garden and the water feature represents the farm’s very own natural springs, from which they take water to distil the delicious gins. It all blends together to create a taste of the English countryside.
Lastly, natural materials, like the Northamptonshire stone that echoes the farm’s stone walls and the copper that represents their distillation stills, creates a little corner of Falls Farm right here in central London. Bliss!
What happens to the artisan garden afterwards?
In the spirit of sustainability, we’ll take this garden back to Falls Farm after the show. That way, the distillery visitors can enjoy it for years to come.
You used a lot of bee-friendly plants in this year’s garden, what would you recommend for our readers to test in their own?
Honeybee’s eyes are super sensitive to UV light so blue violet and white flowers are especially attractive to them. The Warner Edwards Garden focused on a white colour scheme with splashes of blue, not only great for bees but reminiscent of our countryside. Try mixing Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing', Geranium Rozane and Salvia ‘Carradoona’ for a lovely long season of bee heaven.
Are there any trends you think will be taking over the gardens of 2018?
Good textural foliage, following the trend of the indoor houseplant craze. Conservation is becoming, quite rightly popular, as we become more aware of what’s happing to climate change and devastation to many habitats.
Do you have any summer tips in particular for a gardening novice this summer?
Get out there and have a go, try buying three plants of each plant when putting together a border for bigger impact. Make sure you know whether the plants need sun or shade depending on your garden and watering until established is essential.
You must be both very busy this time of year having just finished CFS, how do you like to relax in your free time?
Kate - Walking the dogs on a Sunday and perhaps going somewhere new and exploring. Equally a good lie in is very welcome.
Tamara- I have recently bought my mums young horse back up to Norfolk, and am currently living the dream, riding horses in the morning (all be it at 7am) and then work in the afternoon. Treating myself to a few hours a day means I don’t mind working late into the evening.
To find out more about Kate & Tamara’s work visit: https://kate-tamara.squarespace.com or www.gardensbykateandtamara.co.uk.
For those who have been inspired to give their gardens a re-vamp, tag @yawnlondon using #RelaxWithYawn across your social profiles or email email@example.com - we’d love to see.