Garden designer Ben Gray grew up on a farm in Lincolnshire and he has a degree in fine art. No wonder the country gardens he designs are beautiful works of art. We chat to Ben about how he got into gardening and what inspires him.
Hi Ben, when did you start gardening?
When I was about 7 or 8 I remember regularly going to the local garden centre to buy plants and then planting them in the garden. I guess that’s when I started. However when I was studying for a master’s degree in Fine Art my work became about plants and nature, this is when I started gardening more seriously and my passion really took off.
Was gardening a thing in your household when you were growing up?
Yes, but farming took up most of everyone’s time.
Who else gets involved with your plot? Is it a family affair?
My partner Hannah gets involved with the fruit and veg growing also our one-year-old daughter likes to try and help.
Where do you get inspiration and gardening advice from?
Most of my inspiration comes from garden designers like Tom Stuart Smith and Arne Maynard. I also use Pinterest a lot. When I need advice I use the RHS website.
What are you planning to grow this season?
This year I have taken on a project at Chelsea Flower Show so most of my time will be growing plants for the show and clients’ gardens leaving little time for anything else. My partner Hannah is going to get some tomatoes on the go.
How does gardening have an effect on your lifestyle?
Gardening keeps me active and in touch with nature. I feel I am a happier and healthier person because of this.
What do you find most challenging in your garden?
As the summers are getting drier I find keeping on top of watering a challenge, especially after a long day at work. I am aware that water wastage is a big problem so collecting rainwater is important, also mulching beds really helps lock in moisture.
What has been your greatest success?
I’m not 100% sure but what I am most proud of is the plants I have grown from seed or propagation methods like cuttings and grafting.
Any big growing challenges you plan to take on in the future?
I’d like to become more self-sufficient so one of my goals is to create a kitchen garden that provides my family with all our fruit and veg year-round.
Three top tips you would give someone starting out?
Just go for it and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you can read all sorts of contradictory advice online. The best way to learn is to make a few mistakes.
Three people you’d recommend following on Instagram?