About Horticulture Magazine…

INSPIRING THE UK TO GROW THROUGH LEARNING

Horticulture Magazine is an online publication owned and managed by TKO DIGITAL LTD.

Since our inception, our purpose and mission have been clear. Our aim is to inspire our readers; for them to:

  • Firstly, take out into their gardens and experiment with new plants, modern equipment or innovative growing techniques.
  • Secondly, feel confident that the gardening equipment they are using is of sufficient quality and has been qualified by industry experts.
  • Third – get trusted information on plant growing tips that are specially written for the climate in the United Kingdom.
  • Fourth – and most important – feel empowered to lead happier, healthier lives through the medium of gardening.
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Fast-forward a few years and 2020 was an incredibly difficult year for everyone but something of a breakthrough year for the website, as we helped millions of users in the UK with their gardening needs. Our website has become a trusted authority in Britain for those looking for plant growing tips, composting guidelines, garden equipment comparisons and planting inspiration.

Charity Partnerships

We are incredibly proud to support a range of charitable initiatives here in the UK that promote the conservation of natural landscapes and wildlife. We continue to work with our partners towards our mission to help protect biodiversity and encourage the rewilding of local habitats.

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The Herb Society Corporate Member

Our Editorial Team

Our editorial team is primarily based within the UK, but we have contributors based much further afield. All of our team have varied backgrounds with one thing in common – an unparalleled enthusiasm for horticulture.

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THOMAS O’ROURKE
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF FROM LEEDS, ENGLAND

I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2010 with a BA in New Media. When I started this website (in its previous form) back in 2019 it was purely out of a desire for documenting my new-found gardening hobby. I’d hoped I might help a few people along the way, but never imagined it would grow to the size of the operation we have today.

Looking back at 2020, I’m immensely proud that we were able to help more than 1.7 million people in the UK who accessed the website looking for help and advice with their garden.

That’s testament to our amazing team of writers and editors who continually produce best-in-class content for the website.

It’s my responsibility to ensure we continue to grow whilst maintaining the highest editorial standards for our readers.

I am a Full member of The Garden Media Guild.

What is your favourite plant?

“My favourite plants would have to be climbers. My garden in Leeds is covered with beautiful English Ivy and Clematis on the walls and fencing. In future I’m planning on introducing trellis climbing roses on the exterior of our home. I also love the look of climbers such as Creeping Fig and Senecio which can add green character to the interior of your home. Just make sure you keep on top of their growth!”

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ELIZABETH WADDINGTON
SUSTAINABLE GARDEN DESIGNER FROM FIFE, SCOTLAND

Website: www.ewspconsultancy.com

Elizabeth has honed her gardening skills on her own rural property over the past 7 years, and on her allotment prior to that. She works as a writer, garden designer and sustainability consultant.

With an MA in English and Philosophy, Elizabeth has learned horticulture hands-on in the real world, as well as through in-depth research into sustainable models of living and growing.

Since obtaining her PDC, she has completed many permaculture designs for gardeners and farmers around the world – from Highland crofts, to Welsh community gardens, from urban gardens, to country homesteads, from rooftop aquaponics, to sprawling food forests… and plenty more besides.

Through her work and her own lifestyle, she continues to do all she can to facilitate sustainable change and keep her own and other people’s gardens growing.

What are you growing in your garden right now?

“I have a walled orchard/ forest garden, vegetable beds, and a polytunnel where I grow a huge range of different plants. As well as a small woodland area and a wildlife pond.

In my polytunnel and vegetable beds I grow many common fruits, vegetables and herbs, including all the most common annual crops, but also some that are a little more unusual, like quinoa, amaranth and orach, for example. Companion plants also include borage, and other edible flowers.

In my forest garden, a walled area of around 20m x 10m, I have 6 different apple trees, 2 plum trees, 2 cherry trees, a young damson tree, a mulberry sapling and a Siberian pea tree.

Shrubs include Elaeagnus for nitrogen fixation, and many flowering shrubs. There are raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries. And I have many, many other useful and/or edible plants in the herbaceous layer and as ground cover.

In the small woodland area are wild cherry, crab apple, alder, ash, maple, birch, small-leaved lime, laburnum, elder, lilac, rhododendron, etc.. and many more perennial flowers, bulbs, wildflowers and useful ‘weeds’ in wilder corners. And those are just a few selected species.”

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EDWARD BOWRING
HORTICULTURAL THERAPIST & GARDENER FROM WEST SUSSEX, ENGLAND

Website: chichestergardener.com

Ed grew up surrounded by a family of avid gardeners, but did not succumb to the lure of gardening until later in life.

With a BSc in Occupational Therapy, Ed previously worked within mental and physical health settings where he saw the benefits and healing potential of gardening. Through further training with Thrive, Coventry University and Pershore College, Ed completed the diploma in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture and has managed and run therapeutic, kitchen and community gardens in the UK ever since.

Living on the south coast Ed takes full advantage of the mild climate and divides his time between running horticultural therapy sessions in community gardens, working as a professional gardener and writing for national and regional publications.

Horticulture has been used therapeutically in healthcare settings for decades and recently we’ve seen a surge in its use through social prescribing. It’s no wonder really, as gardening and being surrounded by nature can be so healing and can have such a great impact on our mental and physical wellbeing.

What are you growing in your garden currently?

“As a family we try and grow as much of our own food as we can. It’s so rewarding to see our children get involved and learn where their food comes from, these are skills I hope we’re giving them for life.

Our kitchen garden is bordered by espalier apples, pears and plums and has a lovely old olive tree built into a well in the centre. We grow all manner of vegetables, interspersed with companion plants and have made a separate area for growing cut flowers, which usually includes includes dahlias, cosmos, ammi, cornflowers and delphiniums.

We’re really blessed to have a greenhouse which not only means we can grow more easily from seed and over winter tender plants, but extend the growing season as well, for example last year we had a great oriental salad crop planted out after the indoor tomatoes finished.

My favourite area though is the asparagus bed as there is nothing better than eating home grown asparagus!”

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KERSASP ‘KERSIE’ SHEKHDAR
NATURE-LOVER, PHOTOGRAPHER & WRITER FROM KARACHI, PAKISTAN

Website: clippings.me/penforhire

I used to be an avid gardener in my youth but because I am now a busy writer I have to be a casual gardener. However, I am and always will be a Nature Lover first and foremost. As a professional and vocational writer I have authored pieces on quite a variety of subjects which have been published on an equally motley collection of websites.

I have a strong preference for low-care flowering evergreen bushes that bear clusters and bunches of brightly-coloured florets for months on end. Duranta erecta, Lantana camara, and perennial Verbenas are favourites. In more trouble-free and leisurely days I used to grow, among other flowers, Zinnias and Pansies which are my favourite annuals. I love Azaleas, dislike cactuses, and am indifferent to roses. I suppose my ‘softest spot’ is for Gerberas because those are the plants through which my beloved grandfather kindled a lifelong love of gardening and nature within me.

I wish I could say I have a ‘Gardening Philosophy’ but I don’t. I try to be sensible and work with and within Nature and my capabilities. I simply hate it (with a vengeance) when something terrible happens because I did something I shouldn’t have done.

I don’t believe in being weed-happy. If you see something sprouting and you do not positively identify it as an unwanted weed, give it a chance. Perhaps Persephone has sent you a gift? Among such gifts sent to me are Bluebell Vine or Blue Pea and a Cardinal Flower lookalike.

My busy lifestyle has also reduced the time I now have for DIY using my hand tools – what a pity to have an Allen socket-and-wrench set, Vise-Grips, and such, and not put them to regular use. However, I still do the odd simple job and am reasonably handy in and around the house with my fairly comprehensive collection of both brand-name and Chinese no-name tools.

What are some of the must-have tools you’d recommend for beginner gardeners?

“If you live in a flat and have a balcony garden, you can get by with a trowel, fork, and cultivator, best bought as a set. Add to that a pair of secateurs and a watering can, and you’re all set.

Now if you have a little garden of your own in which you will prepare beds and grow plants (but not bushes, climbers, or trees), add a pair of gardening gloves and a shovel and a Dutch hoe, draw hoe, or both. If your garden has stony, calcareous, or simply compressed soils, also get a gardening pick.

Next, get a hosepipe of the appropriate length. A wheelbarrow will be very useful to move soil, manure, and sand, and to cart away cuttings, leaves and such.

If you have dense shrubs and bushes, your next buy should be a bypass loppers to keep things trim and tidy. If you have small trees or much deciduous shrubbery, a rake will be a smart buy.

Finally, if you have bushes or climbers with stout branches or have small trees with thin limbs, get that most underrated of garden implements, an anvil loppers. An anvil loppers is for a markedly different purpose to, and is also handled very differently than, a bypass loppers.”

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CHRIS LEE
WRITER FROM OXFORD, ENGLAND

Website: chrislee.is

My route into gardening was maybe a little unusual. After getting involved with the Leeds Green Action Society in 2013, I spent a semester working in their food co-operative. This store-bought food from ethical retailers and sold it at cost, which was a revelation for me at the time (read: it was a revelation for my wallet).

Through the Green Action grapevine I was eventually invited to their allotments – two plots in Hyde Park which were both fairly dishevelled. It turns out they were also run co-operatively, meaning there was no hierarchy and that all decisions on what to plant and when had to be reached by consensus. In a university society with sporadic attendance, this often led to empty beds, abandoned crops, and not much of a harvest.

Over time, though, momentum started building. The plots were cleared, we repaired the polytunnel and built a shed, and rebuilt the firepit. We organised growing days, picking days, juicing days, and all sorts of other fun activities. We started harvesting fruits and veg, and the community energy made it a really exciting thing to be involved with.

In the years since I’ve not lived anywhere with a workable garden, sadly, although I do have a herb garden and a lot of houseplants. I think gardening or, if you don’t have a garden, houseplanting, is a great way to boost your mood, bring colour and life to your space, and get back in touch with nature.

Which, in today’s disjointed world, I think is more important than ever.

Another passion of mine is cycling: Another great way to get back in touch with nature, although obviously quite different to mulching and sowing a flowerbed. I’ve written for various cycling publications, and I’m currently writing a book about my ride across Canada in 2017. Check it out here.

What plants would you recommend for beginners getting started with a vegetable patch?

The first thing that came into my head was beetroot, as this was the plant assigned to me at the Green Action allotment. It’s the first crop I planted from seed then harvested myself a few months later.

I’m aware beetroot isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though. So for something a little less controversial I’d recommend potatoes, carrots, or chard. All super easy to grow, and all very versatile crops. If you’ve still got space, plant a few herbs. They’re fairly easy to grow, and having herbs on standby is a quick and easy way to liven things up in your kitchen.

I’d also recommend chillies, because there’s nothing better than having your own supply. You can make chilli sauce as well, which is a fun project.

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JONATHAN SWEET
ENVIRONMENTALIST FROM EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh with an MA Honours degree in 2009, I decided that I would like to see some of this beautiful world of ours before setting down roots in any particular location. With that goal in mind, I spent the next six years travelling, working and living in over 40 countries around the globe, with extended spells in Australia, Chile, Colombia and the United States. I was lucky enough to be able to use my passion for writing to fund these adventures, developing a keen interest in nature and environmental topics in the process.

Since returning to Scotland in early 2016, I have dedicated myself to learning more about the importance of encouraging sustainable habits in all facets of our lives, including (but not limited to) our connection with the great outdoors. I have carved out a niche in writing about all sorts of green (and green-fingered!) topics, including renewable energy, eco-tourism, planet-friendly eating and amateur horticulture. When not tapping away at my keyboard, I can usually be found exploring the dramatic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands or indulging in my other great love: cinema.

What are some of your favourite perennial plants (and why)?

“Since I’m a big fan of the idea that everything has its place in this world, I favour perennials which combine an attractive aesthetic appearance with a secondary purpose or feature that can add real value to their surroundings.

For that reason, I like aloe vera and peace lilies for their air-purifying qualities, lavender and clematis for their ability to draw pollinators and encourage biodiversity and any perennial vegetable that can be harvested for a healthy meal, with artichokes and asparagus particular standouts.”

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APRIL FOOT
CONTRIBUTOR FROM BRIDPORT, ENGLAND

April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.

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SOPHIE LORFORD
CONTRIBUTOR FROM SALISBURY, ENGLAND

Sophie is a freelance writer who loves the great outdoors, travel and learning new things. Juggling motherhood with a passion for writing, Sophie loves to give guidance and help others with her work.

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