Eddie Erith from GardenEye

Why gardening? I was brought up on a farm in Essex and grew to love the great outdoors, the fresh air and the amazing versatility of the landscape. We were in Elm country and those years were overshadowed by Dutch Elm Disease. At a young age it made me so aware of the fragility of nature and the environment along with its beauty. Gardening was in my blood.

How did you turn your ideas into reality? After a year in Southern Africa travelling and working I arrived back without a bean. I cajoled a friend to put an advert in his local paper as Graduate Gardeners. I just couldn’t believe I was being paid to have a bonfire most days. It inspired me to go to a Horticultural College and then to Cambridge to study Business. I then moved to London where I ran a business called Down to Earth Gardening which morphed into The London Gardening Company, which I sold, and then I started GardenEye in East Sussex/Kent in 2010.

What’s your absolute favourite plant? It completely depends on what criteria this is based, but if a gun was pointed at me: tree: oak; small tree: Amelanchier ‘ballerina’; shrub: Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile; perennial at the moment: geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ or echinacea ‘Sundown’. One? The plain grass on the ground is truly the most remarkable plant.

How do you go about encouraging nature into the garden? What encourages bees to wander into the garden and pollinate? Flowers. We have so little understanding of these amazing animals which we need for our survival.

How can people make a real statement in their garden without it being too costly? Use a professional garden designer to help you. A good designer should instantly understand the practical issues, the potential, the landscaping problems, and the budget for the garden. The garden must embody the spirit of the house and property but blend with your styles and tastes. That’s the real trick!

Tim Playfoot from Playfoot Garden Design

Why gardening? I thoroughly enjoy gardening because it gives me a chance to revel in nature. Because most of my time is spent designing and managing projects I don’t do so much hands-on gardening as I used to, but I do enjoy seeing a garden develop from design through to maturity as there are many continually changing scenes.

What’s your favourite garden? That’s a hard question! I don’t really have a favourite garden as I enjoy different gardens for their varying styles. Great Dixter is an excellent place to visit if you are a plant lover!

Where do you find your inspiration? I like to watch the effect that the changing seasons have on the landscape, as you learn a lot about plant habitats, and, of course, visiting different gardens.

Is there a type of project that you’ve never tackled before that you’d love to get your teeth into? I have designed a huge variety of gardens both large and small, traditional and contemporary, but I suppose a few more contemporary gardens would be great to give me the opportunity to try out some different concepts.

What are your can’t-live-without tools? My pen as I draw a lot, and secateurs!

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