Luton designer says our gardens are gaining importance due to pandemic
Huge surge in demand for landscape designers
Before lockdown, many of us hardly thought about our gardens - apart from mowing the lawn, maybe buying the occasional border plant and a shrub or two.
But all that's changed. Since the pandemic, they've become places of rest, relaxation and refuge.
According to the Society of Garden Designers, this has led to a 140 percent increase in demand for their profession.
Luton-based Janina Baker of Designs4Gardens can testify to this, having recently completed several makeover projects in the area.
She says Luton has a problem with clay and to counteract this, she uses top soil and organic matter.
One of 10 children born in a small village in northern Poland, her passion for cultivation started at an early age.
She explains: "My family's food came from our organic garden. I'd spend hours in it with my parents... and my love of flowers came from my mother."
She's particularly fond of hydrangeas, crocosmia, geraniums and Japanese anemones and uses lots of grasses in her designs.
Janina learned her craft at Enfield's prestigious Capel Manor College where she studied horticulture and garden design.
Her inspiration is the late plantswoman Beth Chatto. She says: "I used to visit her gardens in my free time and did one of her courses, where I had the privilege of meeting her."
Janina - whose hobbies include wild swimming, photography, art and yoga - has a keen interest in Feng Shui, finding the balance between Zen and nature in both small and large urban gardens.
The mother-of-two says: "I aim to blend the exterior with the interior of the home, ensuring what we design suits a client's lifestyle needs and decor choices."
Allan Deacon from Bushmead asked Janina to create something that would be easy to maintain, using curves and circles instead of straight lines.
He was thrilled with the result and says: "She came up with an ingenious design involving three overlapping circles with raised flower beds, a patio, pergola and summer house."
Janina incorporates year-round interest in all her gardens, from early spring bulbs to late flowering perennials.
She says: "I like to create places of peace and joy. Everyone's garden should be a little piece of heaven."