An Interview With Visit Chislehurst
Have you ever wondered how people make their gardens look so lovely, but your own one never quite looks right? Do you spend a fortune each spring buying plants and flowers in the hope that they’ll bloom throughout summer but within a month they’ve slowly drooped and died? Then perhaps you need a little help, guidance or a complete garden make over from Victoria Legge Garden Design. We caught up with her this week to find out a little bit more about gardening:
Have you always been interested in Gardening?
I have always loved spending time in the garden. Both my parents and grandparents were very keen gardeners and so an interest in the garden was instilled from a young age where I would help (maybe not always that helpful) with weeding, digging etc. As a child, one thing I always loved was growing plants from seeds, things like marigolds and tomatoes. Now I love to grow unusual and exotic stuff from seed, it allows me to experiment with what works well in different soils, depths of shade as well as combinations etc.
Why is planning out a garden space so important? Where can people get inspiration from?
It’s very easy to buy a few plants you like the look of at a garden centre and either plant them without thinking too much about the bigger picture or leaving them in the pots on the patio. This leads to plants which don’t perform well and a garden that can look very random. You’ll also find that you’re spending quite a bit on plants that may not be suited to the soil in your garden. If you plan out the garden properly you get a space that works really well for you and your family’s needs whilst looking really thoughtfully and beautifully designed. Planning out the planting means the plants are chosen for the position in the garden and a happy plant is a plant that will thrive and need less maintenance.
When is the best time to start planning?
In London and the South East you can build a garden at any time of year. The only restriction I generally advise clients on is that it’s best to avoid putting new plants in the ground in the height of summer as this adds additional stress to the plants. One thing I often find is that clients underestimate how long the whole garden design and build process will take. For a small back garden, you are typically looking at a minimum of 4 months from initial consultation to a finished garden ready for you to enjoy. This breaks down roughly into 4 weeks for the design process, 2-3 weeks for tendering for contractors, 6-8 weeks waiting time (optimistic depending on time of year) and 4 weeks build time. A good comparison is that a garden redesign is similar to doing a small extension on a house, in terms of both time and budget.
Can you tell us about the different garden design services you offer?
Full Garden redesign
A full garden redesign includes hard landscape design, product and plant sourcing, a planting plan, and project supervision. This approach is typically required when the current garden structure does not work for the client, perhaps the garden has been neglected for several years or a new extension has changed the way the garden is working. The approach is completely bespoke to the clients requirements and an initial consultation is required to assess which services are included.
Reinvigorating the planting is the quickest way to transform a space without the need to change the structure of the garden. I can suggest colour combinations and planting styles suitable for the site or a full planting plan based on client and site requirements. I can implement the schemes as part of the service, alternatively the client may wish to use a Planting Plan to carry out the planting themselves.
Alternatively, I can meet with you to offer bespoke advice on an hourly basis. Perhaps you are getting into gardening but have a few questions and would like some professional advice, or want some ideas that you are looking to implement yourself.
Where has your business taken you?
I originally started volunteering in a garden called Great Dixter in Sussex which is my all time favourite garden and a fantastic day out from Chislehurst. This led me to considering a career in horticulture. Since starting the business my most exciting venture was creating a show garden at BBC gardeners world live last August. It was lovely to see the fantastic reaction from the 40,000 visitors to the show and get lovely feedback from the judges, and of course the gold medal. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to do more show gardens in the future.
What sort of projects are you working on at the moment?
My projects are all residential gardens, from tiny little courtyards to much larger projects. Some are contemporary spaces and some are much more traditional cottage style gardens or formal gardens. The style really depends on the needs and taste of the client and every space is bespoke. A good designer has a broad knowledge of both design and planting styles so can adapt to your requirements.
If you could redesign anyone’s garden, famous or not, who’s garden would you take on?
I feel really passionate about a sustainable approach to creating gardens, ensuring that we do what we can to support the environment in our outdoor spaces. Working with clients that share this view is always a joy so my ideal client is probably someone like Sir David Attenborough. I have been very much enjoying his new series focused on plants, although I’m not sure many of those fascinating species would thrive here in the UK.