Andrew Herman’s Harmonious Gardening

We recently interviewed Andrew Herman, a Suffolk Gardener, who loves to experiment with new plants and see his clients gardens slowly unfold and blossom throughout the year.

What age did you become interested in gardening?
Well, as long as I can remember the natural world has always fascinated me. My father was forever introducing me to insects, plants and wildlife. Although he wasn’t particularly keen on gardening I do remember some “centurea“ planted along our white picket front garden fence that captivated me by way of shape and colour. I was four or five at the time. Both of my grandfathers had well stocked gardens and vegetable patches that I enjoyed exploring.

What do you enjoy most about gardening?
I enjoy seeing healthy and happy plants that have originated from a tiny cutting I might have been given or taken from a plant that is new to me.

What is your biggest achievement as a gardener?
I would say, inspiring my clients into taking notice and enjoying their gardens.

How do you come up with your garden designs?
I work intuitively and from experience. I’m not interested in packing gardens with plants straight from garden centres like you get with park borders or urban planting schemes. I’m horrified by the waste once the season is over. Perfectly fine plants are thrown away. They could easily be recycled for the following year. My designs come about from the understanding of what the garden has from the start. Not all is evident at first glance. A garden usually has all year interest by way of plants, it takes a while to appreciate what is going on. Then it is a matter of extending some plants, relocating others and introducing plants that improve the overall effect.

What are your 3 top tips for managing a garden?
First of all, if you don’t enjoy it, forget it, do something else. Secondly, experiment with any plant that you are curious about. Gather, get given or buy seeds and plants that interest you. Find out about them and observe what grows well in your area. Thirdly, start to plot out what works where. The aspect of the garden, sunny, semi-shade or deep shade. Soil type acid or lime based, sandy or clay. Work intuitively, but consult various gardening sources whether books or online. You can always relocate a plant that doesn’t seem to be thriving in the spot you have placed it.

What do you currently having growing in your greenhouse?
I do still have some trays of Romneya or Matiljia poppy seeds that I hope one day will show signs of life! Gardeners will know how difficult it is to get these plants to take.

What’s your favourite crop and plant to grow?
The plants I am still struggling with, currently the Romneya or Matiljia poppy. One day! I am very keen on the echiums including Vipers bugloss that grows wild in East Anglia as well as the hoary mullien also a remarkable weed if there is ever such a thing.

What are your 3 top tips for maintaining crops in a greenhouse?
I have only had my greenhouse for one year. You will have to get back to me once I have a little more experience with it! Ventilation in the summer has been paramount with the dry weather we are getting. Location and aspect are the other criteria for a successful greenhouse. Daily checking of the water levels another important issue.

What advice do you have for a beginner?
Get started! Scan the shelves of garden centres for the packets of seeds and buy the ones that draw your attention for whatever reason. Observe what people have in their gardens and research what it is and what conditions it needs. Remember, annuals are generally sown as seeds in early spring for just one season, flowering and then dying. Although you can usually harvest the seeds for the following year. Perennials come back every year. Biennials flower the following year from when sown.