A Cuppa With… Garden Designer at Kew Gardens

For Suzie Jewell, Garden Designer at Kew Gardens, a lifelong passion for gardening blossomed at the young age of six when she began exploring in her parents’ garden.

At Joules, we love sparking our little ones’ imaginations and finding any excuse to get them outdoors, so we were very excited when Kew Gardens revealed the brand-new Children’s Garden.

We caught up with Suzie to find out all about it.

Photography Credit: Jeff Eden 

Q: How long have you worked at Kew Gardens?

“Four years and four months.”

Q: What first attracted you to gardening?

“It all began when I started growing veg and making a pond in my parents’ garden when I was just six years old.”

Q: What does a typical day look like?

“It depends on what project I’m doing. I usually have an early start by cycling to site to see what needs doing. On a site day I’ll spend my time setting out plants, whereas a typical office day will see me sketching out designs and researching ideas and planting palettes.”

Q: We’re excited by the opening of the Children’s Garden, what can you tell us?

“The Children’s Garden is 10,000m2. That’s about the size of forty tennis courts! It’s a sensory garden for children to explore and find out what plants need to grow. They can discover the answers in the Earth, Air, Sun and Water themed garden areas that are filled with hundreds of trees, thousands of plants and loads of play elements.”

Q: What advice would you give any budding gardener?

“Get outdoors and see how planting changes through the seasons. Visiting gardens and parks is a great way to get inspiration for your own garden. Start growing your own! Begin with things that are easy to grow like sunflowers and strawberries and build up from there.”

Q: What plants or flowers do children find fascinating?

“In the spring time, children love the cherry blossom and tulips. They are naturally drawn to big, colourful flowers and sweet-scented blossom. Texture is also important – rustling bamboos and ornamental grasses with airy flower plumes are very tactile to children and adults alike. Also, jungle-like plants with big glossy leaves are very popular.”

Q: The Children’s Garden seems very interactive, how important is interactivity within our own gardens?

“Very important! Children need the opportunity to interact with outdoor garden spaces so they can feel connected to nature. This connection helps to develop a love and understanding of plants and wildlife and why they matter.”

Q: Can you offer any tips on how we can incorporate an element of this at home?

“Spending time in the garden is great fun with kids – planting up pots or even giving your child a part of the garden to look after will give them a sense of ownership. Try making your garden fun – you could make a willow tunnel, put stepping stones through the flower beds, build a tree house, make a den or dig a pond.

“Indoor gardening is also great, especially if it’s raining! Try planting up a terrarium, growing a cress head or filling a window box with edible herbs to make your favourite recipe.”

Q: If a visit to the Children’s Garden at Kew inspires a little gardener, what would you recommend parents do to stop the enthusiasm wilting away?

“Get growing! Growing fruit and veg is great as it can be done throughout the year so there is always a crop to look forward to. You don’t need a huge garden either – you can use pots and windowsill boxes so there is no excuse not to!”

Q: Are gardens just for spring and summer?

“Definitely not! Autumn is a spectacular time in the garden as the leaves turn amazing colours from yellow to orange and crimson. There is still loads going on in the garden – late flowering perennials with beautiful flowers and seed heads. Also harvest time for carrots, potatoes and pumpkins.

“In winter, after the leaves have fallen, it’s time to jump in them and make compost! You can plant bulbs ready for the next year and start germinating seeds indoors. You could also help out your local wildlife and make a bird feeder or insect hotel for the winter months.”

Q: Are there any more exciting plans for Kew Gardens you can tell us about?

“We’re building a new garden to show the plant tree of life. Our visitors will be able to learn about how plants have evolved over millions of years and how the study of DNA has unlocked the secret of plant relationships.”

Q: When’s the best time of year to visit Kew Gardens?

“All year! Spring blossom, summer flowers, autumn leaves and winter glasshouses; there is always something amazing growing at Kew Gardens.”

“Children need the opportunity to interact with outdoor garden spaces so they can feel connected to nature.”

Suzie Jewell, Kew Gardens

Thank you to Suzie for filling us in, we can’t wait to get our little ones involved.

To celebrate the launch of the Children’s Garden, Joules has partnered with Kew Gardens to give you the chance to win an overnight stay, plus £500 to spend at Joules. Click the link below to find out more!

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