Gardening Smart: A Chat with Garden Designer Annie Guilfoyle

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Since we’re all staying a little closer to home this summer, our collective attention has naturally turned toward tending, updating, and improving our own outdoor spaces. And whether you’re in the midst of redesigning your current garden or you’re starting from scratch, having a plan is a crucial part of the process! To help you get started, we’ve invited UK-based garden designer Annie Guilfoyle to lead a Gardening Smart virtual workshop series this summer. Head over to our Events Page to RSVP (for free!) and read on to get a sneak peek at what she’ll be sharing.

terrain: Hi Annie! How have you been? What has your sheltering-in-place looked like over the past few months?

Annie: Hi! I am fine, thanks. Since shelter-in-place started, I have been working from my studio at home. In fact, I have been incredibly busy with client design work because with so many people stuck at home, their focus has been on their gardens! So, I’ve had lots to do, and I know I’m lucky in that respect. I also run an educational program with Noel Kingsbury and we have had to put all our efforts into online webinars and talks. I live in the beautiful countryside of West Sussex, so getting out for dog walks in the woods has been very easy and a great way to cope with this situation on a personal level.


terrain: We’ve seen a huge increase of interest in gardening since March. You’ve mentioned you’ve been busy with clients looking to update their outdoor spaces; are there any specific trends you’ve noticed?


Annie: Some of my clients have embraced vegetable growing for the first time, which has been fun. Many people have been able to appreciate their gardens much more because they’re spending so much time at home, so they can literally watch each flower make its appearance in the garden. If they hadn’t been staying at home, they may have only seen their gardens briefly through the season.

terrain: Why do you think so many people have turned to gardening this time? What is it about gardening, specifically, that helps folks feel better in times of uncertainty?

Annie: I think it is partly due to the fact that this has happened in spring, which is a lovely time of year to be engaged with the garden. If it had happened in winter, I wonder how different it would have been? Gardening is about hope, expectations, and new life. It’s a joy-bringer and can provide us with food too. Even though seed starting can be challenging at times, people have been at home to care and watch over seeds and young plants. In years past, they may not have the time to do this sort of intensive work. The very act of gardening and being outside helps us all to connect with nature. Let’s hope that this connection stays with us all!


terrain: We’re so excited that you’ll be joining us for the Gardening Smart workshops this summer. The last workshop on the schedule is about your philosophy of right plant, right place. Can you talk to us about what that means?

Annie: Right plant, right place is a simple mantra, but it’s an essential one. It’s all about thoughtfully choosing and using plants that suit your garden, climate, and conditions, all in an effort to increase your chance of success. We are all tempted to buy on a whim but it’s good practice to do your research and think about what will work before you buy.

terrain: What kind of knowledge, ideas, or inspiration do you hope folks take with them into the garden after attending your virtual workshops?

Annie: I hope people will build on the interest they already have in their garden, that they’ll learn to think long term about making their outdoor space a better place where their plants will flourish, and be inspired to create a sanctuary for them and their families—not just for this summer, but for many summers ahead.

Don’t forget to sign up for Annie’s virtual workshops on our Events Page here!


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