Q & A with Jinny Blom, author of “The Thoughtful Gardener”

By Shelley Pierce | July 30, 2017
by Shelley Pierce
July 30, 2017

Jinny Blom is a leading garden designer who began her London based landscape design practice in 2000 and has designed hundreds of gardens all over the world. Her innovative and uniquely thoughtful work has been much lauded and featured in the press internationally. She has designed four award-winning gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and was awarded the coveted gold medal in 2007. She trained and practiced as a transpersonal psychologist and psychotherapist, working for many years in mental health. In 1996 she chose to devote herself to her lifelong interest in natural landscapes and gardens. Jinny has been nominated Woman of the Year an unprecedented three times – in 2002, 2007 and 2013 – for her services to society including her role as Artist in Residence at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.

Read on to learn more about Jinny’s first book, ‘The Thoughtful Gardener,’ and enter below to win one of three copies!


1.It is interesting to note that you were a psychologist before morphing into a professional gardener. Has your background in psychology been an asset to you in your gardening career? If so, how?
I think if I hadn’t started in psychology I would probably not have become a landscape designer. During my work with people with mental health issues I realized how vitally important gardening was to their sense of wellbeing. Gardening; digging flower and vegetable beds, building walls, laying paving and so forth brought a great sense of contentment to my troubled clients. Nurturing plants is a responsibility and generally one that people enjoy and find satisfaction in. And yes it has my background in psychology helps me in my current career. It is important to tune in to both clients and landscape and keep that focus right through the project.

2. What does it mean to be a “thoughtful gardener”? How does your book teach us how to become thoughtful gardeners?
So much is done in haste these days. We are hungry for the end result and sometimes miss the pleasure of a well considered process. I’m a ‘slow’ gardener. I hope the book encourages people to consider all sorts of aspects of creating a garden that might have passed them by; the local history, the land beneath their feet and its geology, place names and so on- these all have a part to play in design.

3. Of the 250 gardens you have designed around the world, which was your favorite and why?
Oh I can’t pick one out! I’m sorry if it’s a frustrating answer but I’ve loved them all! Every project has a unique collection of people and stories associated with it and it’s a bit like a theatre production – entertaining and memorable.

4. Tell us about a landscape you are currently designing and what new revelations about gardening it has brought you.
I’m doing a very large project at the moment, eighteen acres of gardens. It has a complex history so there is restoration of a 1920’s garden and many new elements that we are designing from scratch. It is fascinating and complex creating something where old and new hang together and become a future classic. The revelation is how carefully you need to consider the old and the new together. In this garden it is the railings and gates that I design that hold the key to it working”¦or not!

5. At the outset of a landscape project you learn about the history of the land you are developing. Why is it important to have an enhanced historical view of a landscape before beginning a project?
Sometimes in doing a little bit of research you can reveal a nugget of history that gives a direction to a design. I’ve discovered recently, for example, that a Roman Road once ran through our site and on it was a little farmstead. Before I did the research I felt we needed a little pavilion or a shack on the spot so it was a happy coincidence to find a Roman had once thought the same! I’ve just discovered my own home- which is a barn dating from 1592 stands on the site of a 10th century palace! I don’t know how I can turn a barnyard into a palace but it’s a fun idea that there was one there once upon a time.

6. What’s in your garden?
At the moment my garden is full of ideas. It is never easy designing your own garden and I love what we have but want to make sweeping changes. I’m giving myself two years of thinking time so every day imaginary things move and change. It’s exciting and daunting”¦and I need to save up!

WIN ONE OF THREE COPIES OF ‘The Thoughtful Gardener‘!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, August 6, 201 7 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Why do you want to become a thoughtful gardener?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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  • STEPHANIE BONCK
    Comment added August 1, 2017Reply

    I would love to be more thoughtful in gardening because I just bought the house I'll live the rest of my days in. I have a blank canvas, and want to really make a wonderful space.

  • dawn
    Comment added August 1, 2017Reply

    there is nothing more healing and uplifting to me than digging in the dirt. from just weeding, grooming the purslane into a ground cover, or making a planting bed or reading endlessly to increase my knowledge, it has to be one of my favorite things in life. i can readily see how natural of a move it is from psychology to landscape designer. hope to be a landscape designer myself one day. thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise.

  • JESSE JOHNSON
    Comment added July 31, 2017Reply

    I want to be a thoughtful Gardner to set up a garden with flowers that bloom in spring summer and fall. I like to have greenery that complements the flowers also

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