The Gardens, weeds & words podcast, Series 1 Episode 4

Call yourself a gardener?

Gardening without a garden, with Alice Vincent

It’s not every day you get to share a podcast episode with a furry critter, which is probably what the Telegraph's Alice Vincent thought when I appeared in her Skype app. It’s definitely what I thought when squirrels began to throw themselves upon the plants on Alice’s balcony as we recorded – perfectly timed to demonstrate just some of the tribulations of gardening 60 feet up.

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It’s the time of year when many of us are rightly casting our gaze about the garden, looking for the last few tender plants that need to be taken under cover to escape the ravages of winter. This is a kind of default standpoint from which many of us domestic horticulturalists gaze upon our beds and borders in November, but it’s a privileged position, and we need to spare a thought for those of our comrades for whom the notion of bringing plants in for the winter is an alien concept – purely for the reason that there’s nowhere to bring a plant in from.

Undeniably there’s a burgeoning interest in plants among those living in rented accommodation, or in flats with no access to a traditional garden. Planting in containers is clearly a sensible route to take, but when restricted to a small balcony or to window ledges, your options are further limited. It’s a phenomenon that’s widely identified as being associated with the millennial generation, and for those who find themselves gardening without a garden, there are issues around access to an entire industry whose focus is upon a different demographic.

How is the wider gardening media serving these gardeners (for gardeners they are, let there be no mistake)? How is the horticultural trade providing for them – not just with products, but with shopping environments? And how are we, as a body of green-fingered geeks, doing at sharing our knowledge with newbie gardeners in an inclusive way that minimises barriers? Gardeners are a friendly and generous lot as a rule but, as with any shared interest, there’s a whole lexicon of jargon that can be intimidating to new comers, and it doesn’t help when half of it is in pig latin.

I was privileged to have the chance to interrupt Alice Vincent in the middle of the highly-secret long-arc project that she’s currently working on (you’ll have to wait to find out more about that!), as she’s just the person to have opinions on these questions. There’s also the usual seasonal soundtrack, and a micro-review of Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Gardener – how to create a stylish garden for next to nothing.

I do hope you enjoy this episode – please continue to share the podcast on social media, and if you’d really like to brighten my day, leave a review on iTunes or your podcast app of choice. Or drop me a note in the comments section below, having listened on the embedded player on this page.

Gardens, weeds and words podcast, S01E04 show notes

A blend of slow radio, gardening advice and conversation, and readings from the best garden and wildlife writing.

Garden soundtrack

Autumn ending.

A micro review of The Thrifty Gardner, by Alys Fowler, with an extract read by Beth Pinkerton. 

Do you need a garden to consider yourself a gardener?

Interview with Alice Vincent, journalist and author of How to Grow Stuff, host of the Noughticutlure talks at the Garden Museum, and tap dancer extraordinaire.

Alice Vincent in the Telegraph

Alice on Instagram

Alice’s under-shelf grow lights are made by Modern Sprout

And check out Jack Wallington’s award winning blog here . Jack also has a column in the Telegraph Gardening section, and is and all round lovely chap who grows a mean dahlia.

With thanks to Beth Pinkerton for providing her smooth tones for the reading, at criminally short notice. You can find Beth here: Twitter Instagram 


You can hear find the podcast trailer and the first four episodes here, either on iTunes or on Switcher.

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Hello! I’m Andrew, gardener, writer, photographer, and owner of a too-loud laugh, and I’m so pleased you’ve found your way to Gardens, weeds & words. You can read a more in-depth profile of me on the About page, or by clicking this image.