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Wednesday
Aug272014

John Tebbs of The Garden Edit

The Garden Edit redraws the traditional boundaries associated with shopping and the garden by bringing together a modern collection of products that embody functionality, timelessness and beauty.
— John Tebbs, Founder

In recent years, UK cities have witnessed a gardening renaissance with a green-fingered, young and urban population eager to brighten up drab landscapes by making the most of green patches and outdoor concrete slivers of cityscape.

I can’t say that gardening is my thing, I’ve always associated it with the retired and elderly but that soon changed when I came across The Garden Edit, an online platform with a dedicated collection of products for and inspired by, the garden. Founded during the winter of 2013 by English gardener John Tebbs, The Garden Edit has reimagined the tools used in the creation of a garden and presents a contemporary collection of outdoor products that embody functionality, timelessness and beauty.

When the opportunity arose to visit Tebbs at his West London home, we jumped at the chance and made the journey to learn more about his gardening career that’s spanned over 15 years.

Sitting around his dining table, Tebbs explained how he had only recently moved into his Twickenham flat with his partner and was still settling in. In his light-filled and comfortable new home, he also told us of how he grew up in the small market town of Ashby de la Zouch, North West Leicestershire (England), the product of a green-fingered family who were later to inspire his career choice. Tebbs also fondly recalled the years spent on his father’s allotment (which he still has today) and his experience of growing to love the outdoors.

The road to becoming a professional gardener wasn’t always clear and began at fourteen when Tebbs took up a Saturday job at a ‘ramshackle and old’ plant nursery. Slowly learning the basics, he hoped to attend horticultural college after school but instead, after much deliberation enrolled in an art and design history degree at the University of East Anglia. After graduation, Tebbs spent a year teaching English in Prague before returning home to pursue something he would enjoy for the rest of his life. After merging his two talents (design and gardens) in a garden design course based at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, Tebbs also began work in garden maintenance under ‘The Garden Restorer’ and mentor, Lyn Payne. 

When Payne moved out of London, Tebbs continued to work alone under Finch Gardening and now he creates and maintains private and commercial gardens across London on a weekly basis. Speaking about his professional gardening experiences in London, Tebbs describes how “gardeners are often perceived as outdoor cleaners, especially in this city.” He also described the plight of the solitary gardener and a moment in his career when gardening for him became a particularly lonely job with few opportunities for social engagement. Another challenge that UK-based gardeners face is the uncontrollable climate and harsh winters and when the frost began to settle Tebbs retreated indoors to source and start to sell a loose collection of well-designed products made by craftspeople, artists, publishers and family run businesses across the world. A few winters later, The Garden Edit was born.

Launched in 2013, The Garden Edit is the go-to website for contemporary gardening. Starting out with a collection of tools for the modern gardener, the site has evolved and now presents a wealth of items that fuse practical elements and good design. Eager to avoid the ‘ornate and floral’ character that has historically typified gardening products, the Garden Edit’s collection is a neat compilation of thoughtful design that presents the work of international craftspeople.

The website’s clean aesthetic was created by graphic designer friend Nadia Aftimos alongside photographer Jessica MacCormick who shot the website products and editorial imagery. Overwhelmed by the response to the site, since the launch Tebbs has gone on to build strong relationships with likes of Swede Iris Hantverk, Dana Bechert and plant illustrator Alicia Galer alongside publications including Plant Magazine who all feature on the site. The collection also includes a sleek brass and cane watering can by Bauhaus designer Carl Auböck and more everyday items such as handmade soaps by L:A Bruket and handmade planters by the California-based ceramicist Pilar Wiley.

The expansion of The Garden Edit has included an online journal that launched in April 2014 and more recently, gardening inspiration pages, where passionate contributors report on inspirational gardens and gardeners from around the world. Tebbs’ success has steadily grown and he now writes a fortnightly garden page, translated into French for M, Magazine du Monde. More recent collaborations in Tebbs’ portfolio include a window installation for COS Kings Road in Chelsea, which was inspired by the cacti at Southfield Nurseries, the UK’s largest cactus nursery and ‘space case’ plant cases co-created with American furniture maker Jason Rens for the 2014 Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition at Salone del Mobile.