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Charlie McCormick On English Country Gardens & Instagram

Meet gardener and florist Charlie McCormick, whose Instagram account is inspiring a new generation of gardeners

Until recently, gardening was a pastime I thought I’d enjoy slightly later in life, too preoccupied with social media to consider developing green fingers any time soon. And yet, this – ironically – was how I first stumbled across Charlie McCormick – a young man who is transforming the traditional image of gardening through Instagram, where he is currently just shy of 40,000 followers (@mccormickcharlie).

It was McCormick’s grandparents who “planted the seed” (as he aptly puts it) for his interest in horticulture, which began at the tender age of eight when he would enter local shows, creating miniature gardens and flower arrangements in his native New Zealand. The young gardener has since made some giant steps – from moving to the UK to eventually building his own brand. 

“I think that English gardens are a whole level beyond any other sort of gardens; that’s my personal view, anyway,” he tells me. “England has the perfect climate for loads of different plants.”

McCormick resides in London and Dorset with his husband, interior designer Ben Pentreath, and while Penreath was responsible for decorating the inside of their home, McCormick was in charge of transforming the garden, which was in a tired state before he got his hands on it. “My favourite job is our garden at home – that goes without saying. I think your own garden is always the best because you can spend so much time in it, whereas if you create a garden for someone else, it’s amazing but, if they’re not interested, it loses its charm. 

“My favourite part of my garden is the dahlia border, which isn’t in bloom yet,” he continues. “I imagine I’m going to be seeing a lot of them on Instagram this year.”

The popularity of his own Instagram page can perhaps be attributed to his colourful and unique style, which has been recognised worldwide by publications such as The Telegraph and The New York Times. “I’d say my style is a tapestry of colours and textures. It’s quite wild; I don’t mind some weeds growing. I’m a big fan of colour – probably a bit too much colour,” he says with a smile. This is perhaps why he is excited about his predictions for gardening trends this coming year.

“I think 1950s- and 1960s-style gardening is making a comeback, which I love,” he comments. “Another trend is rare plants, which I’m growing a lot of, as well as the sort of flowers that haven’t really had a moment in a long time which have been bred to some nice colours – plants like gladioli, begonias and hybrid tea roses in more shocking colours, which I think are quite fun.” 

Finally, does McCormick have any tips for those looking to redesign their own garden as the long summer afternoons draw closer? “Don’t be afraid of trying things out; I think that’s key,” he advises. “But also, what’s really important is that you get your soil tested, because you can find out exactly what it’s deficient in. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, it will really help you with what you can and can’t grow, plus what you need to add to your soil to get it a lot healthier. Because then, obviously, your plants will be a lot happier.”