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GBBO’s Jane Beedle: Venturing into garden design

28th March 2019

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Former Great British Bake Off finalist and garden designer, Jane Beedle talks growing, cooking and turning your passions into your career

Jane Beedle rose to the challenge of the Great British Bake Off in 2016 and became a firm favourite among fans. We spoke to the keen cook and garden designer about her experiences in the industry and inspiration for using harvests in the kitchen.

When asked how she got into a career of garden design, Jane replied: “I used to work in advertising but my friend and I were very keen gardeners and started a little garden maintenance business offering autumn clean ups, tidying hedges and the like. As the years went by people asked us to redesign beds and borders and I thought that I ought to learn more about the subject. I started with an evening course and then went to Hadlow Agricultural college in Kent and completed the four-year part-time degree course.”

Garden design is a career option that those with an interest in horticulture might consider. When asked which skills were best suited for the industry, Jane replied: “I think there are so many qualities you need to be successful at it, one that I’m not terribly good at is saying no to people. When you’re starting out on your own it’s easy to take on every project that comes your way, but some won’t make you any money and others will take up far too much time for very little reward. You also need to be tough with money and charge appropriately, that way clients will take your work much more seriously. It’s always a good idea to value yourself and your time.”

As a grower of edible crops, we asked Jane about her favourite veg to grow. She said: “I love runner beans and always put them in a border because they’re beautiful climbers. Chillies are such fun to grow and I also like tomatoes. Squashes tend to take over a bit but I get so excited whenever I find a good-sized one to harvest! Chard looks so pretty, too.”

With her background in design we quizzed Jane for her tips on creating a beautiful growing space. She replied: “You can surround your vegetables with companion plants such as marigolds to brighten the space up. It’s also a good idea to make good use of vertical space including trellises of raspberries and hanging baskets. You could also try interspersing your veg rows with flowers for cutting, dahlias or asters that will liven it all up, you just need to use a little bit of imagination.”

Like many other gardeners, Jane often finds herself looking for inspiration to use up gluts from the harvesting season. When asked for her ideas she said: “I like to give edible gifts at Christmas. There are so many brilliant things you could do. Piccalilli is fantastic and you can cram so many vegetables into it. Tomato chilli jam is something I often make, as well as caramelised onion chutney. A flavoured apple vinegar with raspberries or damsons from gluts in the freezer is such a wonderful way to use them and it’s delicious on salads.”

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