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The Great Outdoors with Josie Fear and Charlie Irons

Josie Fear and Charlie Irons, @oldhouseourhome

Josie Fear and Charlie Irons embarked upon an adventure in Spring 2020, leaving their London house to create a home in the Cotswolds. Since then, they have transformed their Grade II listed former rectory into a luxurious haven inside and out. They are known for their support of British brands and share our mindset of 'buy once, buy well'. Josie and Charlie started their own George Smith journey when they purchased a pair of Somerville Chairs for their drawing room and a pair of Almack Chairs. Over the years, our relationship with the stylish duo has developed into a friendship of shared values and a passion for quality. Read on to discover their tips and tricks for creating an outdoor space that feels like home.

    Q1: What inspired your garden?
    I would say our garden has very much been inspired by the Cotswolds, the English countryside, and our immediate surroundings. Both Josie and I have always loved gardening and getting our hands dirty, it is our favourite way to switch off and we’ve found it to be the perfect escape from the massive amount of ‘screen time’ that working within social media encourages. TV shows like Gardeners’ World have become firm favourites in our household and we are constantly learning from the likes of Monty Don as to the perfect blend of perennials and annuals, suited to English country gardens.

    In terms of the design itself it is a real blend of mood board imagery and plants we have photographed when out and about, whether that be National Trust properties we’ve visited or Hotels that we’ve been fortunate to stay at. We did initially take an enormous amount of advice from Nicholsons Garden Design as to the best way to maximise the space and create the ‘garden rooms’ and different areas that we craved.

    Q2: What was most important when choosing your garden furniture?
    Put simply, supporting local and British businesses has become a hugely important factor in any house purchase of ours and thus where the products are made is something of utmost importance to us both.

    Q3: What is the most beautiful garden you’ve visited?
    It would be difficult to suggest just one, but a recent source of inspiration were the gardens at Cornwell Manor, with the spectacular topiarised Yew, made famous by ‘that scene’ in one of our favourite festive films, The Holiday. Others would include the kitchen gardens at Le Manoir where they focus on organically grown produce and tend to allow things to grow and develop without too much intervention and this ‘less manicured’ aesthetic is very comforting and inspiring. National Trust properties are always a great option if you are ever looking for inspiration and fresh ideas.

    Q4: What are your best tips and tricks for styling a garden?
    First and foremost, patience is key. It is far better to plant things smaller and in stages, learn about the plants that enjoy your own garden conditions and that you love the look of. Successional planting is something we have grown to really appreciate, the concept of planting perennials that grow and flower in stages, essentially ensuring that a border looks good almost all year round.
    Always consider your own lifestyle before planting anything, if you lead a busy lifestyle with lots of travelling, perhaps evergreen, lower maintenance plants might be the best bet. Similarly, we would strongly recommend irrigation in any borders or beds, it will save you an enormous amount of time during the warmer months and is ultimately better environmentally, allowing plants to be drip-watered during the night when evaporation is at its lowest.
    It might sound crazy, but Gardeners’ World, which is on weekly, is a brilliant show for the beginner gardener and we are both forever picking up tips and tricks from the show. The RHS website is also an extremely useful tool for expert information and apps like ‘Picture This’ are great for identifying plants that you like the look of when out and about.

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Nicholson's Head of Garden Design

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