Q&A with Sophie Van Germen @oldhouseintheshires

Old House in The Shire

Is gardening a profession or a hobby?

Gardening is my passion; a hobby but I’d love to make it a job!

When did you start gardening?

I’ve always been interested in the natural world and as a child, my earliest memories are digging, sowing seeds and pond dipping.

Wasgardening a thing in your household when you were growing up?

Gardening was not something I grew up around but I was fortunate enough to grow up in the countryside. I was given lots of freedom to explore and my childhood was spent climbing trees and making wildflower perfume. I was an avid campaigner for environmental issues and as a teenager, I would write to MPs about local, national and international issues.

Who else gets involved with your plot? Is it a family affair?

I garden with my husband although he’s more the DIY man and I’m the creative director!

Where do you get inspiration and gardening advice from?

I love getting inspiration from social media. There are so many fabulous gardeners on Instagram and we all share tips with each other.

What are you planning to grow this season?

I grow mostly flowers from seed having experimented with fruits and vegetables in the last. Last year we added a cut garden with 6 raised beds that need filling! I’m growing Zinnias, Scabious, Cornflowers, Ranunculus and Phlox to name just a few. I adore roses and dahlias and my garden is a cottage style garden with rambling plants in every corner!

How does gardening have an effect on your lifestyle?

I’m recovering from Long Covid so my garden has been particularly important to me over the last 2 years. Like many people, the pandemic has changed the way I see my garden. It’s become my sanctuary in many ways and I’m very grateful to have it. If my symptoms are bad or if life is tough, I know I can sow a seed or potter about my garden.

What do you find most challenging in your garden?

I find gardening fun even with challenges such as the slug invasion last May! 2021 was quite a tough gardening year but the upside was amazing hydrangeas! There’s always something that thrives. That lesson of thriving, even when things are tough, hasn’t passed me by and I’m just grateful for each healthy day.

Three top tips you would give someone starting out?

My top tip for beginners is just try it. It doesn’t matter if the seed doesn’t germinate or slugs have eaten half your dahlias. If you don’t try, how will you know? There’s always a gardener out there willing to share their knowledge with you if you need it!

Three people you’d recommend following on Instagram?
I follow some amazing gardeners on Instagram. My favourites are @garden_goddess_uk

Any feedback on your experience of using Natural Grower?

Last year I used the Natural Grower liquid fertiliser every week throughout the summer and my garden rewarded me for it! It was the best feed I’ve ever used and I would highly recommend it. This year I’m excited to try The Natural Grower compost. We shall see!