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My Gardening Journey By Nik Coleman

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

We asked Nik to share with us his gardening experience and journey, and the inspiration behind moving from NHS to RHS. This is what Nik had to say...

Tell us a little about yourself?

Me and my wife have 3 kids and an old dog called Coby, we live in an old Victorian house with a north facing decent size garden that’s been split into 2 working sites, ones for the kids and my flowers, and the other is a veg/wildlife area. (I say working areas more like work in progress).

What I’m about via my instagram is encouraging anyone who has a love of gardening, be it flowers or growing fruit and veg in a garden of any size to give it a go, with some gardening fun, faith and a little knowledge your garden will reward you with fun flowers and hopefully bring in the wildlife, I hope that comes across.

What was your introduction into gardening?

Like so many the first lockdown is when I decided to do something serious with our garden, I’d tried a few years back but didn’t really know what I was doing and a lot failed before it began. Didn’t have grand parents to show the way so it was all trial and error. However when I started researching it was like a whole new world had opened up to me… and I love it.

Who’s your gardening inspiration and why?

Well that’s an easy one, has to be the don, Monty Don and queen Carol Klein. I’ve been watching these shows now for so long and their passion is so infectious, also shows like garden rescue and Titchmarsh, that show always makes me cry at the end lol. It’s funny when family and friends found out I loved gardening they started to impart their experiences and wisdom which I’m very grateful for. Bit of a mixture really.

What do you enjoy about gardening?

Favourite part about gardening is tasting home grown veg, (there’s no sweeter taste) also starting to pot up seedlings, I do love propagation, least favourite is getting rid of plants that don’t make the cut. Theres omething about having muddy hands, dirt under the finger nails and watching a seed bloom into a flower and then share that experience via friends and family, they probably think "he’s talking about plants again" lol.

Tell us about your gardening experiences?

I personally think keeping a plant alive from seed to bloom is a success in its own right.

Every gardener has opposition at some point whether that be pests, weather or keeping up maintenance, it’s definitely a learning curve. I was really happy about growing sweet corn and eating it, definitely a success.

In terms of challenges I think it’s important to show gardening isn’t always a bed of roses so I post my failures also, it’s real gardening.

Found out I’m allergic to a weed called sticky willy or cleavers weed from other names it’s called, it left burn like scars on my arms so I’m aware of that when gardening, it’s not gonna stop me though.

Why did you decided to swap carers from NHS to RHS?

I still work for the NHS but during covid it hit home how quick things can change, so acting on that I'm now studying with the RHS and I’m now doing gardening part time on the side.

Go after your dream, it may be gone tomorrow.

Which RHS garden would you love to work at?

Wow, tough question, there’s too many, to gain valuable experience from any of the RHS gardens would be a humble experience, I will be that guys crying on the flower bed living my dream lol.

What do you enjoy about studying horticulture?

Knowing a lot more now than when I first started has answered a lot of questions of how and why some plants didn’t survive whether that was poor plant choice, soil conditions, plant placement, pest control. Being able to put into practice in my own garden what I’m learning is awesome.

What impact or benefits do you think gardening has had on your life & why do you feeling gardening is important?

Being able to show my kids where food comes from is a biggie, hopefully I’m teaching them some valuable skills and how hard work rewards but it’s ok if sometimes things don’t work out. We all know how being outside is great for you and that it benefits the mind body and mental health conditions. It keeps you grounded in a moment with you and nature and I praise the lord for that, sort of returning you back to tending the land (our gardens) to a slower pace of life which I think many of us have lost.

How do you try to manage the impact your gardening has on the environment?

From day one I was like no chemicals will be used in my garden, with a family of 5 our food waste no longer goes in the bin but the compost bin, got to love the brown and green waste, so when that breaks down we have clean chemical free compost for the following year.

Our gardens have be become a haven for wildlife so creating areas where beneficial insects can occupy is a must something like big hotels, the pond helps with control of pests also using companion planting instead of pesticides, insecticides and fungicides.

Using gray water and creating a water butt to harvest rainwater. Rotation of crops to hinder disease, raised beds so not to damage the soil.

I’m bit of a hoarder if you looked in my garden garage I believe plastics shouldn’t be in production anymore so I reuse plant pots all the time. It sounds like a lot of work but I like to say we’re trying.

What are your future plans for your garden?

Not gonna lie my garden is looking a bit of a mess (defo not instagram worthy) but it’s a real garden. I planted annuals from seed this year and most of them are going over, so going forward; section one of the garden will have the flower beds extended and planted with perennials for succession. Section two the veg plot and wildlife area needs a lot of work, more raised beds and I’m thinking of getting a tree, perhaps a cherry.

I’d like to say I’d stick to the list of fruit and veg my family eats however I’ve started rescuing other peoples cast offs so I think another flower bed area inside the veg plot won’t hurt, there always room for more plants.

Thanks for letting me share my and talk about my garden, you’ll find more goings on and shenanigans @nikcoleman74

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