City Gardening with The Hackney Gardener

31st Mar 2023

Hackney Gardener's Garden

This week we’ve joined forces with Stina, The Hackney Gardener, who has worked wonders transforming her city garden into a beautifully planted urban sanctuary. The first rule? Just because you’re out in the open-air, never forget the power of good design as you cultivate a truly inviting retreat...

The Hackney Gardener in her garden

Stina, can you tell us a little bit about your beautiful garden?

My garden in East London is a typical terraced house plot - long and thin. To avoid it looking like a corridor I have divided it up into separate rooms which creates a sense of discovery as you walk along it. The look I have gone for is a lush English garden, with lots of roses underplanted with geraniums and tons of tulips in spring. The layout and structure of the garden is quite formal - I love a bit of symmetry - but within that framework I let the plants go wild and spill over. It is the tension between that structure and the unruly nature of the planting that makes it feel lush.

What jobs are you focusing on this month to get ready for the season ahead?

Right now, I’m busy sowing seeds; the magic of it never gets old! There are lots of things I should be doing but I am very conscious that the garden should be a relaxing and fun place to be, so I am letting go of any pressure to tick things off my list and instead just cherry picking the fun jobs. My windowsill is bursting with tiny seedlings - there is hope in a little pot!

We’ve noticed your love of roses; do you have any favourite varieties and any tips for growing?

I love roses so much and would recommend them to anyone, regardless of whether you like a traditional look or something that’s more contemporary. They are actually really hard-working plants that give so much joy for years and years. A bit of an investment at first, but if you pick the right rose, they will flower all summer and well into autumn. My favourites are Gertrude Jekyll, Sceptre'd Isle and Lark Ascending.

What advice would you give any other city gardeners looking to recreate your English countryside look?

Plan the layout and structure carefully and make sure to consider height; it is really important to include vertical elements to raise your gaze from ground level. The easiest way to do this is by adding some tall plant supports for climbers to grow up. Then go wild and fill you garden with your favourite plants and let them do their thing. Don't be tempted to keep things too neat; you want it to be a bit loose and free to get that magic secret garden feel.

Our Fulbrook mirror looks very at home in your garden, why did you choose it?

I'm so happy with the Fulbrook, it fits the space perfectly and I love the clean look. The size is great, it is quite big so makes a proper statement. I have planted some honeysuckle underneath it and can't wait for it to grow up and frame the mirror to create the look of a window - it is going to look amazing in a few months’ time.

Are there any must have garden products or tools you would recommend for the novice gardener?

Some really good secateurs are a great thing to have; look after them and you will be using them for years. It is worth spending a bit more, so perhaps choose a design to pop on your birthday or Christmas list.

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