Episode 94: Wild Gardens with Jo McKerr

This week’s episode features garden designer and horticulturist Jo McKerr, who runs Pratensis Gardens. Jo is particularly interested in designed spaces where soil health, biodiversity and wildlife are encouraged but which still look good to the human eye. I started with a list of questions for Jo but the interview became more of a fireside chat, so pull up a chair and join Jo and I as we wend our way through eco-gardening.

Dr Ian Bedford’s Bug of the Week: Winter Moths

This episode is sponsored by the London College of Garden Design Melbourne.

Based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne the college brings together unique Australian design and horticultural expertise with the training experience of Europe’s leading garden design college. The College delivers professional skills training for those aiming for a career in landscape design and from 2021 will offer a real-time online option for those who want to study from anywhere in Australia or New Zealand. To find out more visit www.lcgd.com.au

What we talk about:

Jo’s background and the type of projects she is currently working on.

Rewilding has been a buzzword for a few years and is creeping over into gardening. Can we rewild our gardens?

Jo wrote an article for Bloom magazine about creating natural gardens and stated that due to our lack of real knowledge about gardens and their wild inhabitants, “I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are to garden in a way that’s kind to the planet, we need to be conscious protectors and regenerators, with good instincts.” Jo explains what she means by this and talks about how it can be at odds with the way many currently garden.

Younger generations or people new to gardening – are they are alienated by certain practices or traditional methods of thinking?

The place of gardens in a climate crisis.

The future of horticulture.

About Jo McKerr

“Horticulture and garden design is my second career. Before I had children and a mortgage I worked as a TV producer and director and dreamed about writing and performing in the theatre.

Plants and garden-making snuck up on me. I initially just wanted to save some stag beetles and create bit of an oasis in London. I found life in London challenging, I was used to space and quiet and contact with the elements, and I ended up becoming homesick (what we now understand as “biophilia”). It was my little London garden with two trees and birds and insects and the feel of the soil that made me sane at the weekend.

I have all the requisite qualifications that make me both a garden designer and trained gardener: a Garden Design Diploma from Merrist Wood and a RHS2 in Practical Horticultural Theory from Bristol University. However, it has been my fortunate ability to constantly fiddle in my own gardens that has allowed me the space to develop and grow.

I am always looking to collaborate with fellow landscapers, soil scientists, entomologists, gardeners, architects, designers and artists. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch – my gate is always open!” – https://jomckerr.com/about/




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