Guest Blog - Jane Porter, Chelsea Flower Show Designer
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is back for 2022 and promises to be even more wild and wonderful when it opens tomorrow until Saturday. The theme for this year’s show is Rewilding Britain, with designers being asked to “embrace the wild” and “bring nature back”.
You don’t need acres of space to enjoy gardening and the outdoors, you can re-wild any small space and perhaps you’ll gain inspiration from the Balcony and Container Gardens category at Chelsea which is back for its second year.
One of the designers entering this category is Jane Porter, who grew up in Guernsey and was educated at Ladies’ College. Her first show garden, Still Garden is inspired by another set of islands, the Highlands and we spoke to her about her love of outdoor spaces, being bold in your choices and tips for new gardeners in Guernsey.
If you are interested in relocating to Guernsey for a better work/life balance or simply want to find out more about setting up a business in Guernsey, please get in touch.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you first became interested in garden design?
I had barely any interest in gardens prior to moving into a house with a long-established garden in 2015. My first career had been as an Arts Producer but I was made redundant when I was pregnant with my second child. I started pottering around in the garden and decided I wanted to learn more so I went to night school to study Horticulture. I then went on to do gardening and small residential design projects where I live in Bristol. In 2021 I graduated from London College of Garden Design with a distinction in the Planting Design Diploma. This year I have my first garden at Chelsea Flower Show. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind!
2. Your Still Garden at RHS Chelsea is within the Container Garden category – nowadays, not everyone has access to large garden spaces. How can people with little outdoor space make the most out of gardening from containers?
Always try to have the largest containers you have space for. This opens up your options for what you can plant. Use the vertical – you may not have the ground space but go for height. This will give you a sense of immersion in the plants. Know where the light falls and when. Then you can select the right plants for the conditions. And be bold – try things out. If it doesn’t work, try again!
3. Can you give our readers 3 tips for how they can be more sustainable when gardening at home?
Try to leave a wilder area in your garden and don’t be too tidy – creatures need cover over winter. Collect rainwater and make your own compost. Be creative with repurposing materials. If you can, have a pond.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
4. Do you have any tips for Guernsey gardeners who are just starting out? With its own micro-climate, is there anything in particular that they need to be aware of?
You can grow the most amazing things in Guernsey because of the warmer climate. With this in mind some things do tend to take over. This is great in large areas you want to fill but more problematic in a small spaces so be careful with plants that spread or self seed rapidly.
5. Over the past 2 years, outside space has been a saviour for both our mental and physical health. How has gardening and the outdoors helped you?
I have always lived with depression which I have found ways to manage but I still have low ebbs. When I feel like that I get outside and get lost in gardening tasks. Something about putting a new plant in the ground makes you feel hopeful. As Audrey Hepburn said, ‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow’. I love physical work outdoors. I used to be an outdoors instructor and being outside working reminds me of being out hiking.
6. What do you miss most about Guernsey life and where/what do you visit when you’re back?
I miss the sea. Where ever I am I can’t be close enough to it. And not just the sea, the beaches and cliffs. I pine for Herm when I’m away so I always make sure to go on every visit.
If you are considering relocating to the island, the team at Locate Guernsey are on hand to provide confidential guidance throughout your relocation journey free of charge. If you would like to understand how Guernsey could work for you, please get in touch on 01481 220011 or email email@example.com.
© All photo credits - Jane Porter