Alexander Hoyle

Alexander Hoyle: Kew-trained plantsman and designer

Garden designer Alexander Hoyle indulges in timelessly romantic planting schemes in his projects including gardens in central London and as far afield as Tangiers Portrait Andrew Montgomery

First plant love The first plant I ever bought was a teasel, but the first plants I fell for were pelargoniums. I started collecting them as a teenager, and still love their timeless, proud elegance.

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Who has inspired your career? Joseph Atkin, head gardener at Aberglasney, ingrained a work ethic in me, which I carry forward to this day; he pushed me in the right direction, and encouraged me to study at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which was a life-changing experience.

Horticultural heroes Norah Lindsay. She was active in the 1920s, the First World War was over, and in many ways it was the golden age of plants – aesthetically beautiful, new gardens, with their architectural structure and planting that looked as if it had always been there. Cliveden is one of my favourite gardens. It was designed by Lindsay, and I love its statuesque, towering, architectural yews, and the almost serendipitous planting.

Ideal weekend I recently stayed at Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland. When the estate closed, you had the whole garden to yourself – the golden hour. It was absolute heaven.

Least favourite plant group Golden foliage – anything with aureus in its name. I love silver, though.

What principles have guided your attitude to gardening? Start young, have a strong work ethic and be prepared to work long days. I started as a garden boy at a local garden that opened for charity.

Tips for every gardener Play with planting combinations, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Visit lots of gardens for ideas and record your inspiration and work in a scrapbook ­– Instagram is great for this. Instagram fix @jimiblake_huntingbrookgardens is inspirational.

Unsung hero of the plant world Ivy; it has such a bad reputation, but I’ve had a couple of requests recently to include it. It works especially well in shady city gardens and there are so many interesting cultivars, particularly Hedera pastuchovii ‘Ann Ala’ with its elongated, beautifully veined, dark green leaves.

Biggest challenge facing gardeners today As I consider this following a summer that had one of the hottest July days recorded, it seems apt to consider irrigation, and how we adapt to climate change.

What’s the next big seasonal task you’ll be tackling? It’s that time of year, when we will be planning our autumn bare-rooted planting and choosing bulbs for spring flowering.

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Contact alex@alexanderhoyle.co.uk, Instagram @alexander.hoyle