Kit Kemp's Design Thread - Top Tips for Gardening

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Clive & Kate's top tips for gardening

This week we have caught up with our resident gardeners, Clive and Kate to discover their top tips for how to make the most of our urban gardens, from window boxes to vegetable gardens and roof terraces.

1. Spring is here, what are you currently planting?

Ham Yard Hotel is in bloom with narcissi, tulips and wallflowers which we planted in the autumn.  Our vegetable garden has been prepared ready for sowing and planting out our fruit and vegetables for the coming season. We have been busy sowing seeds in our greenhouse for Ham Yard Hotel's roof garden. A good job at this time if you have Buxus plants is to spray for box tree caterpillar which will be active this month. 

As we can't currently go out to buy plants, we are germinating our own seeds at home. We are sowing broad beans, French beans, peas, carrots, radishes, lettuce and rocket.  There is nothing more satisfying than eating something from your own garden.

2. What are the best plants to use to attract and encourage wildlife in a city?

We have found that growing leeks in the rooftop vegetable garden at Ham Yard Hotel and letting them go to seed attracts the Bees. Another popular plant with bees is the herb, Borage. In our wildflower meadow, we grow a variety of wild flowers to attract the wildlife. The more cultivated or blousy the flower, the less pollen it creates, therefore not giving as much benefit for insects like bees or butterflies.

3. Having a garden is not always possible in a city, what plants would you suggest are ideal for window boxes or inside pots?

For window boxes outside we would suggest Sarcococca or Heleboures and Heathers and white Hyacinths. For indoor window boxes like we have at Number Sixteen Hotel we have planted Codiaeum along with Heptapleurum and Calanchoe. This will give you a good splash of colour on any indoor window sill. Or if you want to grow your own vegetables on your window ledge, why not try lettuce and radish in a window box.

4. What is your favourite Firmdale garden to work in and why?

We have many favourite Firmdale spaces, but Ham Yard Hotel's rooftop with its vegetable garden and beehives is a lovely setting to work in. It overlooks the streets of Soho and it’s an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Number Sixteen’s garden runs the length of the back of the building, passing the long koi pond and down to the pagoda seating area. We have just planted new patches of Japanese anemones, and white astrantia, both look beautifully delicate but are really robust over the chillier months.