Gardening hero - Nicki Chapman

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show presenter, who has a passion for gardening, enjoys pottering around her newly re-designed garden in Chiswick, London, that she shares with her husband, record company executive Dave Shackleton.

Despite being compact, Nicki’s always valued the space as an oasis from city life.  When they first moved in, the couple designed a low maintenance garden with tropical planting such as large palms, along with raised beds, and contemporary grey limestone and dark decking.  Nicki also incorporated features inspired by Chelsea such as a mirrored sculpture she’d seen at the show.

The garden served her well over the year and helped her to recuperate after having brain surgery to remove a tumour several years ago.  ‘It's been a big part of my healing process,’ she said. ‘I couldn't do any gardening after my operation.  I was hallucinating and had dizzy spells but I'd sit outside and that was all I needed, to see the plants and bees and birds.’  Like many of us she also kept herself busy in her garden during lockdown.  ‘The local nursery dropped off plants - the lavender is beautiful … we put our hearts and soul into it,’ she said.

However, last year Nicki and her husband decided to overhaul the garden.  The new garden has plenty of zones to relax in with loungers, a barbecue and armchairs, surrounded by planting for year-round colour and wildlife.  There are pleached hornbeams for privacy and pretty planting such as astrantia, yew balls, hydrangea, a multi-stemmed amelanchier for blossom as well as lavender and eupborbia.  There’s also a bespoke water feature and stylish Atelier Vierkant pots.

Nicki is keen to entice more birds into the garden and hopes the new bird feeder will do the trick.  ‘We loved our last garden but love this one even more,’ she said, adding that she was looking forward to hours and hours of pleasure pottering around and enjoying this special place.