Helping you create the perfect outdoor space

Whether you fancy creating the perfect spot for al fresco dining, growing veggies for dinner or herbs to garnish your favourite cocktail, Allison Homes has partnered with garden designer and gardening coach, Sally Killick of Cornflower Blue Gardens, to create a series of videos to help first-time gardeners get started with a green-fingered hobby.

We caught up with Sally to chat about the joys of growing and how even those new to the pastime can quickly and easily make their mark on their outdoor space.

Sally, it has been quite a year, what trends have you seen emerging?

We have all become a lot more appreciative of whatever outdoor space we have available. Many people have been more conscious of the seasonal changes in their gardens and felt the mental and physical health benefits to spending time outdoors.

During the first lockdown there was a huge surge of interest in homegrown vegetables, or getting children engaged in planting their own seeds.

Now as we emerge with hopes for a more normal summer, we are seeing a lot of effort going into creating outdoor entertaining spaces that are an extension of the owner’s home and reflects their style and taste.

What challenges does a brand-new garden present?

Choosing a new build home gives you a fantastic opportunity to start a garden from scratch. Some people might find that exciting, but others might be a little overwhelmed and not know where to start.

You have got to get to know the outdoor space, understand where and when the sun shines into the garden and how that might affect your layout of areas such as patios or flower beds.

You have also got to work out how you want or need to use the space – will it be a grown-up outdoor lounge area, do you have aspirations for an extensive veggie patch or do you need somewhere for the children to play?

How can new homeowners get started?

When I start a design, I begin with a visit so I can really get to grips with features such as the garden’s position in relation to the sun, if any areas are overlooked by neighbours or what features are already present.

I move on to the Concept Design which includes the plan of the practical items such as where the bins are stored, where the washing line might be, whether there are any accessibility issues. I will also look at things like soil type which helps with the planting plan later.

Once that is in place we can move on to the actual layout, defining where hard landscaping such as patios, walls, raised beds, and where flower beds could be positioned.

After that comes the really good bit – the plants!

Choosing what plants to put where is an art, how can new gardeners find inspiration?

There has been an explosion of social media activity around plants and gardening. Instagram or Pinterest is a great place to look if you need inspiration for the sorts of plants you like or the style of garden you are aiming to create.

These very styled images can be a bit intimidating though, another great way to get inspiration in real life is to visit local gardens that are open to the public through the National Garden Scheme. Many private homeowners open their gardens on certain days over the summer (check National Garden Scheme ( for locations and dates near you). The scheme covers a whole range of sizes and styles of garden from modern urban spaces to rambling cottage style.

How can I get the children involved?

A great way to start is with vegetables. It is important to grow something you (and they!) like though – you do not want to be stuck with a glut of courgettes if no one actually wants to eat it! Carrots are a great option to start on and can be grown in containers, tomatoes too and they do not necessarily need a greenhouse if you choose an outdoor variety.

For the grown ups why not grow all the garnish for your favourite cocktail? Strawberries, cucumber and mint are all a good place to start and are ideal to add to your glass of Pimms!

What are the benefits of gardening?

I think we have all come to understand what a difference spending time outdoors can make to our mental and physical health. Recent research from the Royal Horticultural Society found that people who garden every day, have wellbeing scores 6.6 per cent higher and stress levels 4.2 per cent lower than those who do not garden at all.

Gardening is an ideal way to slow down and practice a bit of mindfulness. It is so rewarding seeing your seedlings sprout, picking the first homegrown fruit or just creating the perfect corner to enjoy catching up with friends.

Video clips to get you started

Sally has filmed a series of short ‘how to’ videos and quick tips to help new gardeners get underway or to provide tips on everything from shady corners to mulch for more experienced growers. Visit our YouTube channel to view them.

For more information about garden designer Sally and the services she offers from garden design to one-to-one coaching and specialist pruning visit Cornflower Blue Gardens.

To see where you could start your gardening adventure check out our developments