Blooming Revelation - meet Arthur Parkinson

Say the words "author and gardener Arthur Parkinson" and a young and handsome boy with floppy brown locks and a twinkle in his eye is not typically the image that most people would have in their minds, but then Arthur Parkinson doesn't do typical. Parkinson trained at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew before becoming the protege of Sarah Raven (the renowned English gardener, cook and writer) and then head gardener at the Emma Bridgewater Factory garden. Now, the 29-year-old has been busy planting his future, one that looks set to become as vibrant as any flower border he has ever constructed if his instagram following is anything to go by. Charming, erudite and a natural in front of the camera, we caught up with him recently to shoot our Niwaki campaign and pick his brains on all things green-fingered...

What aspects of gardening do you love the most?

Creating and nurturing new life, every seed that pops up is an exciting little being that you then care for and it rewards you by thriving and eventually flowering or fruiting. I love the constant sensual aspect of gardening - scent, touch, taste, bird song, and the colours, too, so much clout and craziness. I like growing cut flowers because it allows a harvest each week to take that beauty inside and ensures a connection between the house and garden. I love seeing bees and birds everyday that visit the garden because the plants I grow provide them with shelter and food. It’s about growing a miniature nature reserve, not just a garden. Gardening, if done in harmony with nature by growing nectar-rich flowers through the seasons, having little pools and by not using any pesticides, truly can help do a huge amount of good for the earth and our souls. 

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Hortus Gardening Jacket
Rhodes Tobacco

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Arbor Gardening Smock Wick Denim Indigo Rinse

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Arbor Gardening Smock
Wick Denim Indigo Rinse

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Scion Gardening Gilet Rhodes Black

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Scion Gardening Gilet
Rhodes Black

When are you happiest in your garden?

When I’m on my own and not stressed with a hundred other things rushing through my head, when I just have some down time and can lose myself in potting or putting together a new combination of plants to grow together as a pot combination. I’m learning to be more relaxed in the garden. I don’t want or need to look at a Chelsea Flower Show-like scene every day - nature isn’t like that, you have to be patient and let it all find its way sometimes. 

How did you know that this was the life for you?

Whenever I notice my fingernails are absolutely black with dirt but that I can’t do anything about it because I am on the tube, that confirms how when I am gardening I don’t notice such vain things. 

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Borders Gardening Trouser Rhodes Tobacco

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Borders Gardening Trouser
Rhodes Tobacco

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Arbor Gardening Smock Wick Denim Light

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Arbor Gardening Smock
Wick Denim Light

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Hortus Gardening Jacket Wick Denim Indigo Rinse

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Hortus Gardening Jacket
Wick Denim Indigo Rinse

What garden has left you awestruck?

I always leave the exotic garden at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire buzzing with excitement, it’s such a wonderful tapestry and a riot of a lot of my favourite jewel tones from July into late October. It’s all very tall and abundant like Alice and Wonderland - a mix of scattered single dahlias brimming with nectar for bees as are the perennial asters. Huge cannas and foliage are at large here and then tonnes of salvias, chocolate cosmos and Chinese lanterns. 

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Borders Gardening Trouser
Wick Indigo Rinse

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Cultura Gardening Overshirt Wick Denim Indigo Light

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Cultura Gardening Overshirt
Wick Denim Indigo Light

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki Hortus Gardening Jacket Rhodes Black

Oliver Spencer x Niwaki
Hortus Gardening Jacket
Rhodes Black

What one piece of advice would you give to someone looking to improve their gardening skills this year?

Don’t be in a rush to cut back everything, try and identify what plants you have if you don’t know, really learn about soil and the type of soil you have and also how much sun your garden gets - the mantra "right plant right place" is so true. Follow some really helpful social media accounts such as @thelandgardeners and @pesticideactionnetworkuk. Plant climbers like hops to quickly dress the walls of a garden so they enclose it and drench bare fences. If you are lucky enough to be in a property that you see yourself in long-term then plant slow growers like roses and if you want an easy life or container growing then you cannot go wrong with tonnes of mints, bronze fennel, artichokes and attar of roses pelargoniums, all sun lovers and drought tolerant. 

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