With more than 1.1 million visitors a month, Gardenista is the number one online sourcebook for garden enthusiasts seeking inspiration for their outdoor spaces, from the perfect front-door paint colour to the best wildflower seed mix.
Though the website is American, it trawls globally from Scotland to New Zealand, with a healthy interest in UK gardens and floral hotspots that currently include hairdresser Sam McKnight’s north London dahlia patch, Kate Moss’s go-to florist Scarlet & Violet and the bees of Buckingham Palace, alongside an artist’s garden in Brooklyn Heights and a tiny Parisian roof garden with an Eiffel Tower view.
Their just-out hefty manual of the same name is a resource that offers in-depth garden tours, myriad design ideas and the firm belief that your outdoor space should be as carefully considered as your living room.
Most useful, however, is Gardenista’s 100-strong garden objects hall of fame, which includes many iconic names such as the perfectly balanced Haws watering can, Fermob’s Bistro metal foldaway furniture in 23 chic shades from Worm.co.uk, Japanese lightweight pruning ladders from Niwaki and Sheffield-based Burgon & Ball’s one-handed topiary shears, as well as hand-made willow and sweet chestnut Sussex trugs from The Trug Store.
To this gold-standard list I would include my cheap-as-chips, machine-washable stretchy Showa gardening gloves with rubber-coated palms and fingers from Gardener Gear, and to the Gardenista mention of Sneeboer’s hand-forged Great Dixter trowel I would add the pointed planting spade in the same range, which is invaluable for slicing through heavy clay soil.
Like much of America, Gardenista is in love with David Austin roses that satisfy so well the twin desires for the beauty of the old French roses with the ability to flower right through summer.
Devotees do find the rose heads have a tendency to droop, so the rose that deserves special commendation is four-year-old coral pink beauty Boscobel, notable for its upright growth and wonderfully sturdy, upward-facing blooms.
Gardenista states that it is a rare garden professional who does not carry a pair of Felco pruners at all times, and Radlett-based garden designer Kate Gould doubtless speaks for the entire UK gardening world when she says that she couldn’t live without her pair of original no 2 secateurs from Felco, which has a useful maintenance service.
“I have had them for 20 years and they have been reconditioned more times than you can imagine and probably no longer have a single original part that they started out with, but they are perfect for pruning and totally reliable.”
The horticultural honours list on this side of the Pond has to include super-grip Nordic Grip “wets”, thermo-lined short rubber boots that are ideal for all-weather gardeners. “My bright yellow pair keep my feet warm, are easy to slip on and off and you can even walk on ice in them,” enthuses London garden designer Claire Mee, who cites them along with Carrier Company’s long cotton drill apron, with pockets for stashing secateurs and string, as her regulation workwear.
Plant nurseries Crocus and Hortus Loci are familiar names in the gardening world, but award-winning designer Nick Bailey, head gardener of Chelsea Physic Garden, has another up his sleeve: Bluebell Nursery.
“It’s my fave place to source special plants, and is a proper, old-school nursery focused on producing and selling a wide range of rare and unusual trees and shrubs. It holds stock you can’t find anywhere else in the country.”
Bailey’s secret source for pots is Italian Terrace. “Very expensive, but they produce a range of gorgeous hand-thrown or coiled pots and urns. They are pale terracotta, but take on a beautiful patina very quickly.”
For more contemporary containers at affordable prices, try The Pot Co.
More and more Londoners are turning to fake grass for no-maintenance lawns, so Easigrass, the recommendation by Vauxhall garden designer Tony Woods, who landscaped the John Lewis roof garden with miles of the hard-wearing stuff, is worth noting.
He also buys mature hedging in 6ft-high, one-yard planting blocks from Instant Hedges.
Finally, what every London gardener needs: a great source for topsoil and elusive, but so beneficial, well-rotted horse manure. Claire Mee has Springbridge on speed dial, and so should you.
Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces by Michelle Slatalla (Artisan Books) costs £28.99, but Homes & Property readers can buy it for £25 including p&p. Call 01206 255777 and quote code MPS 150.