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Garden Interviews #7
Julie Treanor The Pickery
I first came across Julie from the Pickery through her work via the Floral Business Activator programme a number of years ago. I signed up for a year and while becoming a flower grower on a bigger scale than my garden was not something I have decided to pursue, seeing how she worked and shared her knowledge was inspiring. Now days I love seeing how Julie’s garden and growing space develops over a season via her Instagram . I love seeing her pups sneak in and out of shot much like my own troublesome two do. I also share a great love for a good gardening book with Julie. So sit back and enjoy some time with this marvelous women, her garden space sounds fabulous.
Tell us about your garden?
Our country garden is spread over 6 acres, although almost half is covered native bush. The gardens around our house are formally laid out with low hedging and filled with mostly herbaceous perennials, shrubs and grasses with a lawn than makes an excellent dog race track. There’s a garden close to the backdoor that keeps us well supplied with culinary herbs.
Away from the house, we have an orchard where we leave the grass long over summer with single mown paths to reach a rose garden, a potager for edibles and cut flowers and a new greenhouse for propagation and growing edibles all year round. Overlooking the valley we have a naturalistic new perennial style garden that is a quiet place to enjoy the sun setting.
We also have two cutting gardens where we grow flowers for sale to florists and locals. Plus shrubberies that are home to hydrangea, flowering shrubs, eucalyptus and willow all used for cutting.
Do you have a garden style?
I’m hugely inspired by abundant English gardens like Great Dixter and new perennial planting by Piet Oudolf, Tom Stuart Smith, Dan Pearson, Jinny Blom, Isabel Bannerman. We pack as much into the garden aiming for things to be wonderfully wild.
Did you start your garden with a set vision as to what it would look like?
We had a loose masterplan that included the potager, orchard and formal gardens around the house yet it has grown exponentially when I started The Pickery and we wanted to experiment with more perennial planting. We’re returning the potager this year to more food rather than flower production which is true to our original intention.
Tell us a bit about your floral work through the Wellington Flower Collective and the Floral Business Activator?
Starting and running a micro flower growing operation can be a lonely affair so the Wellington Flower Collective started as much as a social network as a way for local growers to work together to sell flowers to florists and the public. It’s been a wonderful way to bring local seasonal flowers to Wellingtonians. Demand is growing which can only be a good thing.
The Floral Business Activator brings together my career as a leadership and business coach with the world of seasonal flower growing. I run online start up business training for new growers and with Christy Ralphs of Nourish Gardens we co-host a year-round mentoring and development programme for floral business owners. We’re expanding the range of online workshops and ebooks this year to help seasonal growers learn the essential leadership, growing and selling skills you need to be successful.
How do you manage to keep your business out of your time in the garden or is it a happy blend of your business inspiring your garden and vice versa.
In truth, there was a while when the cutting gardens got all the attention but now we’re set up I can separate gardening for pleasure and growing for profit. I do occasionally cut flowers from our home gardens but largely they are purely for pleasure. As much as possible I don’t work in the cutting gardens at weekends and try to get at least an hour pottering around the house when weather and daylight permits.
What is your favourite time of the gardening year?
High summer is the most relaxing as the gardens are most abundant and we can sit and enjoy them. Spring is the busiest and it can get overwhelming sometimes with so much cutting back and planting to be done. I do love Spring and winter flowers though and we have lots of pots around the house which change across the seasons.
What is your favourite gardening read?
Tricky, I’m a bit browser of gardening and flowering books although do love a gardening inspired book. We have piles of books in our living room that I love to thumb and shelves of gardening and flowering books in my office that I’m constantly referring to. I’ve started reading about gardening on Sub Stack which is more thoughtful and less distracting than blogs littered with advertising. My favourite gardening read is probably Gardens Illustrated magazine which I read via the library app - it’s so aspirational and can be read over and over again as the seasons pass.
What is the best gardening tool that you have?
My seed dibber probably. Obviously for seeding but I also use it for planting plugs for the cutting gardens. I’m very partial to my Niwaki snips, secateurs, and hand hoe. The most useful is these days is my Niwaki kneeler since which gives my knees more comfort.
What is your favourite go to plant which you would love to see more people growing?
Like children, it’s not fair to pick a favourite. With every season there is something special to enjoy. I’d really like to see more people growing their own food - home grown vegetables and salads are so much tastier.
What is the best gardening advice that someone has given you?
Enjoy the process. That’s where the real fun is. And, I agree.
Name a garden that you would like to visit and why?
Tokachi Millenium Forest in Japan. I’m fascinated by Japan per say but this garden is such a visionary conservation project with the founder wanting to create a landscape that would be sustainable for a thousand years. Also, I would love to meet the head gardener Midori Shintani - she brings such thoughtfulness to what a garden really is (and isn’t).
Name a gardener that inspires you?
My step mother, Shirley was an avid (some say obsessive) gardener and bought me my first tools and plants. Although our approach to gardening is different she was still the most knowledgeable person about plants I know. With my father, she created several gardens that were always wonderful to wander. I inherited her library of gardening books from my Dad who died earlier this year.
What are your garden goals for the coming garden year?
To enjoy the process of gardening again. Starting a growing business requires a productive mindset. This year I’m going back to basics growing food and aiming to spend more time sitting on all the benches we have placed around the garden to enjoy being in them.
Name a dream plant that you love that you would love to have in your garden?
I’d love a quince tree that actually bears fruit.
To read previous gardener interviews visit the archive.