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In the Garden with Kate Durr

garden designer Kate Durr

Interview with garden designer, Kate Durr

Welcome to garden designer Kate Durr. Kate’s background is in television presenting and she is married to actor Jason Durr, well-known for his role as PC Mike Bradley in ITV’s ‘Heartbeat’.

Kate studied at The Cotswold Gardening School under the award-winning garden designer principal, Caroline Tatham. Not long after she began the course, she submitted a garden design to RHS Malvern which was selected.

What sparked your interest in garden design?

I was brought up in the Wiltshire countryside on my parents small holding and from todderdom I helped in the garden. Mum and Dad grew all their own vegetables and fruit, so I was always picking beands or stealing strawberries!

Mum gave me my own little patch, which I edged with Cotswold stone and I grew annual flowers from seed and rows of carrots. I would spend hours sitting patiently waiting for the fairies, I believed lived in the Aquilegia flowers, to show themselves.

aquilegia flower picture

Title: Plate.19.
Source: Watercolour on paper, Paintings of Wild Flowers of Devon, Penrose, Lydia ( 1787-1842)
Description: Watercolour on paper of Aquilegia vulgaris ( Columbine, Granny’s Bonnet) From an album of 45 paintings of wild flowers of Devon, England by Lydia Penrose.
Date: early c.19th.

Picture: Aquilegia vulgaris (columbine, granny’s bonnets) by Lydia Penrose via RHS archive

And what do you love most about your new career?

There is no finer pursuit than creating beautiful gardens in collaboration with delighted clients, it’s an absolute pleasure. I particularly enjoy the thought that a garden I help to create will become a place where wonderful family memories will be made. What do you find most challenging about designing gardens?

The technical side of garden design is a challenge, but I work with contractors I trust implicitly. So together we can deal with tricky issues like slopes or drainage and find a positive aesthetic solution. What has inspired your winning design for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival? My inspiration for my RHS Malvern Show Garden was the work of blacksmith, Neil Lossock (@lossocksforge). I saw his statuesque steel panels depicting king ferns and was amazed that such a sinuous organic form could be so beautifully captured in a man-made material. My garden features his fern panels and also a wonderful, brand new tulip variety which is the emblem of the cancer charity, Ucare.

Bronnley fragrances have always been inspired by nature. Which fragrances from the garden do you wish you could bottle?

In winter I adore the fragrance of Lonicera x purpusii or honeysuckle ‘Winter Beauty’. This rather insignificant-looking shrub flowers from December to March, but its heady fragrance will literally stop you in your tracks! It has a rich, citrussy perfume that I find irresistible.

Is there one plant you would recommend to add fragrance to a garden?

No garden should be without Sarcococca Confusa, a wonderful evergreen shrub that love a dry shady spot. It cheers me from December through to March with its astonishing scent – pick just one sprig and it will fragrance an entire room with its gorgeous vanilla aroma.

Our RHS Natural Gardeners’ Therapy collection has been redesigned to feature the work of botanical artist, Lilian Snelling. She was a pioneering woman who worked as principal artist at Royal Botanic Gardens in the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. We’re sure there are many to mention, but which female garden designers, past or present, do you admire?

I am a huge fan and avid reader of the late Rosemary Verey. Her beautiful eye for planting combinations always inspires me. Jinny Blom‘s work (@jinnyblom) is also so inventive yet elegant – I love her designs.Rosemary Verey Gardens

We are delighted that you’ve tried our RHS Natural Gardeners’ Therapy range. Do you have a favourite product?

I do use gloves when I plant, but I also like to be able to feel the plants and the soil when I work, so I often remove them! Your nourishing hand lotion is the perfect solution for my hard-working hands. It has a fabulous botanical scent and is highly moisturising, yet easily absorbed. With its elegant, artistic packaging it’s my new bedside table fixture!

Gardeners_GROUP SHOTAnd finally, if there was one piece of advice you could give to anyone about making the most of their garden, what would it be?

Right plant, right place. Do a lttle reading and be determined to only use plants that will thrive in your garden, be it shady, dry, damp or exposed. Then you will soon have a thriving eden of your very own.

Thank you, Kate!

We wish you the very best with your garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May.

Thanks for reading – Happy Gardening!

Follow Kate’s gardening adventures on Twitter @katecharman

Kate’s garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival is sponsored by Whatley Manor & Dyofix, with plants supplied by Whitewater Plant Centre

At Bronnley, we use hand crafted methods to blend natures finest fragrant ingredients into enchanting toiletries that captivate your senses.

At Bronnley, we use hand crafted methods to blend natures finest fragrant ingredients into enchanting toiletries that captivate your senses.

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