Lucy Hutchings, also known as She Grows Veg on Instagram, is to launch a garden design agency at Gardener’s World Live 2023, in conjunction with her ‘The Secret Homestead’ show garden.
The She Grows Veg Garden Design Company is a joint venture between Lucy and Kate Cotterill, who trained with Lucy in garden design at Beth Chatto Gardens, and is currently a fully female company, from director to designer to accounts.
Lucy describes the idea behind the design company and the show garden, saying: “Never has growing some of what we eat been a more empowering lifestyle choice. A tangible way to lower your carbon footprint and disengage from intensive farming, in a global cost of living crisis some self-reliance can ease food bills and improve food security.
“However, the traditional homespun image of the veg patch or allotmenteer does not resonate with everyone, especially those who see their outside space as an ornamental haven. The Secret Homestead aims to break away from all the usual ‘Good Life’ tropes and explore the possibilities of just what an edible garden should look like.”
The ‘Secret Homestead’ show garden will help people to visualise these possibilities, while the She Grows Veg Garden Design Company will open them up to private and commercial clients, providing fully edible and ornamental garden designs, with a focus on how to include as many edible plants as possible. It will also provide clients with comprehensive information on how to harvest the ornamental gardens too.
All of the gardens designed by the company will be eco-conscious, bio-diverse and will help to support beneficial wildlife, with an aim to helping everyone become more self-reliant – including people who are after a purely ornamental garden.
This duality of design is perfectly encapsulated and demonstrated in ‘The Secret Homestead’, giving visitors a glimpse of what could be achieved in their own spaces. Lucy has opted for a dramatic black and white palette, accented with vivid coral and pink, which sets this garden apart from conventional kitchen gardens.
Initially, the borders of the garden at Gardeners’ World Live, appear purely ornamental with drifts of flowers and sculptural foliage. However, all the plants in the garden are edible, from dahlia, canna and colocasia root crops, to zesty oxalis. On closer inspection, some conventional vegetables can be found, but all in their most decorative of forms. Flowering kale, candy striped corn, vivid pink chard and celery; midnight black sunflowers; even gothic tone tomatoes will all make an appearance.
Just as the plants are dual-purpose, so too are the decorative elements. Sculptures double as insect habitats and mushroom gardens, and a hand-painted door reveals a root cellar. Beauty is every bit as important as abundance in this alternative food garden.
Lucy is also curating a new ‘We Grow’ stage for talks at Gardener’s World Live, directly next to her show garden, which is specifically designed for the new generation of gardeners who are mainly active on social media, to help get them further engaged in the subject. The stage will feature a carefully curated selection of talks from prominent personalities and links to the new ‘We Grow’ area of the She Grows Veg website, which aims to bring the social media gardening community together, creating opportunities to meet and interact in real life.
For previews of the design, to find out more about the design consultancy and for grow your own garden inspiration, follow Lucy via www.instagram.com/shegrowsveg, or visit her website at www.shegrowsveg.com
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