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John Tebbs – The Garden Edit

Foliage is a big part of our SS16 collection and perfectly chimes with the current resurgence in urban gardening. We spoke to John Tebbs, founder of one of our favourite websites on the subject: about four plants that you can use to bring a touch of the jungle indoors.


Monstera deliciosa

Often referred to as the Swiss Cheese plant in reference to its leaves. This ever-popular houseplant is native to the tropical rainforests of Southern Mexico down to Panama. It is a relatively easy plant to look after indoors – it likes a relatively warm spot, 20 to 30 degrees ideally with high humidity. Misting this plant on a regular basis can really help. As this is an epiphyte it grows upwards with aerial roots so will need some kind of support – a moss pole in the usual method. The large leaves and ultimately large size of this plant means it can be a real statement. It’s also good to remember this jungle plant needs space to grow.


Philodendron xanadu

Native to Brazil this is another good foliage plant – more shrubby in shape and not climbing in habit. It’s a fast growing plant and is suited to a bright location with indirect sunlight. This is a very robust plant and a good choice for someone who perhaps doesn’t have the greenest of fingers!



A marmite plant, people either seem to love them or hate them. Bromeliads are found naturally growing in the tropical and sub tropical regions of the Americas. Again an epiphyte with roots adapted to clinging on to something else – often trees. However they have been adapted to be grown in fast draining compost for use as houseplants. In the jungle the cup like formation of their leaves catches water and leaf litter for nourishment. Ideal conditions are a bright spot not in direct sun, again a warm temperature of 20 – 30 degrees. They come in a huge variety of leaf colours and patterns and definitely have a 70s feel, not to everyone’s taste!


Calathea zebrina

A tropical plant native to Brazil, grown for its striking leaves. A clump forming plant with long stalks, which can grow to a metre long. Suited to a warm shaded spot, naturally found growing under trees it isn’t a fan of direct sunlight. Their fondness for humidity means they are a good choice for a bathroom. During the growing season water thoroughly, keeping the compost moist – in winter this can be reduced slightly, so the top of the compost is allowed to dry out slightly. Sudden temperature drops and cold drafts should be avoided. Remember leaf tips that are turning brown are a sign that the air is too dry and you need to increase the humidity, this goes for all these jungle natives! Get misting!

We spoke to John about a life spent in the garden and his passion for beautifully designed products:


Did you grow up with a large garden to potter round in? When did you realise that gardening was what you wanted to do with your life?

Gardening was something I was immersed in from as early as I can remember. My parents are both keen gardeners, grandparents, aunts and uncles all share a love of gardening. None of them had particularly large gardens but all of them had different interests, so the gardens were all quite varied. You take in so much without even realising it, it was like a language I learned to speak without knowing. I knew it was something I wanted to do as a career from an early point. I would grow seedlings and sell them to other family members, then at thirteen my aunt got me a job at a local nursery, where I worked every Saturday and school holidays – I loved it! I was certain I would go straight to horticultural college but I also had a huge passion for design and art and so after much debate I ended up doing a degree in Art History. However I returned back to the horticultural world soon after that.

What inspired you to start ‘The Garden Edit’?

At the time when we launched The Garden Edit there was really a big gap for something garden related that approached the subject from a much more contemporary angle. The way we were familiar with the idea of shopping and the garden was the garden centre and the majority of these cater to a mass market in the same way as a supermarket. I wanted to offer a store that had a design element and also speak to a younger audience who perhaps were interested in plants and gardens but had nowhere really to go to indulge that interest.

Also with our Journal it was about presenting gardens in a different way. So often gardens are shown as a perfect finished product and I find that quite miss leading. As a gardener I enjoy the process and seeing that, for me it is as inspiring as the end result. Since we launched just over two years ago we have definitely witnessed a growth in similar offerings, which clearly indicates there is definitely a younger market interested in this area.

The products have a sense of modernity and also timelessness. How do you pick/source the products you want to sell?

Sourcing happened initially through the Internet – I am quite an avid Internet researcher and it can throw up the most wonderful finds. I think because I choose everything it lends a certain aesthetic to the selection that is very personal to me and also gives the products quite a unified sense. I don’t really consider too much the audience, because in a way I represent the buyer and if I like something I have faith that there will be others out there that will too! I think ultimately people will always have respect for products that are made by people with real skills and that display quality and craftsmanship.

"it was like a language I learned to speak without knowing."

John Tebbs

What would you say characterises your approach to gardening?

I think because gardening is something I have always done it is pretty much instinctive, also a huge amount of gardening is common sense! I would say it is something that is constantly evolving too, there are plants that I couldn’t stand when I was younger, perhaps time has simply softened me to their charms, roses for example, I really disliked but I have slowly come to appreciate them. I think maybe one of the key reasons I didn’t like them is their thorns and working with them is always a touchy relationship, they can be highly aggressive! When you work for other people it can be a question of how do you approach the client as much as how do you approach the garden!

What’s your favourite tree/product?

I am currently enjoying the genus of the Cedar tree – they are so stately. I can see one from my window and there is something wonderfully graceful and statuesque about them. They are trees that are relatively slow and need much space so are not as commonly used today but were hugely popular in the 18thC English style of landscape design. ‘Capability’ Brown who is one of the most famous landscape designers of that era will be celebrated this year as it is 300 years since the year of his birth. So even more reason to appreciate the Cedar. My favourite product would have to be the Carl Aubock brass watering can; it turns an everyday object into a wonderful piece of design and truly a thing of beauty.
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