• With many years of experience, Dean, our head gardener at Wild at Heart, has become an expert in plant cultivation and garden design. This time, we asked him to share his top seasonal gardening recommendations, drawing from his work on significant floral projects.

  • Could you tell us about your background in gardening?

    Like many, I was enthused for the love of gardening by my grandmother at an early and impressionable age. Some 50 years ago, I had my first garden, a small cactus garden created in a pan (a squat and wide flower pot), a miniature landscape of succulents. Since then, it can be safely said I have been addicted to plants, cultivation, and pursuing the gardener's art. Half plantsman, half artist, I think that my own gardens reflect that. I am very fortunate to have had an allotment for over 30 years, which has not only matured but changed significantly over the years as I understand my chosen plants more so. A friend said that my work is as a curator, and I would agree, facilitating the correct environs for my collection to thrive together harmoniously.

  • Who has influenced your gardening philosophy and approach?

    Beth Chatto was a very influential late 20th-century gardener. Her most important contribution to horticultural thought was the adage 'right plant, right place.' I wholly agree. Every garden is different; every part of the garden will have a nuance, which is to be enjoyed and made use of. The garden is not a battlefield; there's no point fighting against nature.

  • How did you transition from landscape architecture to floristry, and how does it influence your gardening?

    Although landscape architecture beckoned, floristry became my accidentally chosen profession—an ideal halfway house. Whilst enjoying the artistic possibilities of composition, still using the principles of landscaping in its definitive format, I create a space which gently sits within the wider world. As such, even a small garden can accommodate so many wonderful plants.

  • As summer sets in, what are some key tasks gardeners should prioritise?

    As summer sets in, there are a few things to be done. Hopefully, the winter months have been used to prepare. One of the most important pieces of advice is to be ahead of yourself. Otherwise, warm days and rain will mean chasing your own tail.

  • What is your advice for managing weeds during the growing season?

    It's wisely said; one year's seeds is seven years' weeds. It's so true. Catch them before they set seed! Even better, choose your own weeds. It will be apparent which pretty things choose to proliferate; they should be adopted, filling the spaces where weeds might intrude. Forget-me-not, calendula, cerinthe major, and the scarlet pimpernel amongst others serve the purpose for me.

  • Do you have any recommendations for summer bedding and experimenting with garden colour schemes?

    Now is very much the right time to launch into summer bedding. Throw caution to the wind, a great opportunity to experiment with colour—contrasting, dubious or otherwise. Be bombastic. It's only till autumn, so don't be afraid. I am inclined towards pale pink geraniums, tagetes, luscious dark-skinned coleus against a waft of pink cosmos. It should be sensational.

  • Can you suggest any trends or techniques for mixing herbaceous plants with tender plants?

    Mixing herbaceousness amongst tender planting is very much bang on trend and something well worth exploring for chromatic and textural effect. Latterly, what's learnt can be translated into permanent planting.

  • What vegetables or herbs should gardeners consider planting in late spring, and any tips for their care?

    It's not too late to plant out 'Tommy' tomatoes, which really do appreciate the warmest part of the garden.

    Must go, I have the unenviable task of tackling the bindweed. A wet winter has served it well. Happy gardening!

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