Like so many of us, Henry Bartlam found himself wandering around a garden centre in 2020 wondering what on earth to buy. Bartlam, 38, was in advertising at the time. “I thought, there must be a way to help people create their dream garden with none of the guesswork of what to buy and where to plant it,” he says. “There must be a need for something more accessible for a younger or more time-poor generation of gardeners. I wondered whether a painting by numbers approach would work. It was a lightbulb moment. I messaged my old colleague Ed about starting a business.”
“We work on everything from window boxes to pot-only backyards to blank-canvas gardens, or those who want beautiful flowerbeds but don’t know where to start, or don’t want to drag 19 plants home from the garden centre only to see half of them die.”
The result was Dig Club, founded in 2021 by Henry, Ed Maitland Smith, and their friends Ben Davies and the award-winning garden designer Alex Hollingsworth. Essentially, you pick the theme that’s right for you, such as the English country garden-style The Cottage, the calming, aromatic Mediterranean or the bright and exotic Jungle. You set your measurements and they deliver the plants to your home, ready to be installed with simple instructions. After that you receive aftercare tips by WhatsApp.
“We thought this would be a good chance to demystify gardening and make it more appealing to those who enjoy it but don’t feel they have the time or expertise that, say, their parents do.”
For the piece we were also asked to recommend some of our favourite foolproof bedding plants to bring colour and variety to sunny and shady beds which we’ve included below:
Nemesia – Incredibly-productive flowering plant that comes in many colours and likes well draining soil.
Lobelia – Showers of flowers erupt from this trailing plant in summer and autumn. Loves moist but well-draining soil and works as well in pots as in the ground. Often in blue but also comes in other colours.
Cosmos – Blooming in full sun, these flowers are a magnet for pollinators and give your bed beautiful height and variety. Comes in soft dusky shades as well as brighter colours.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum) – A firm favourite with kids and pollinators, these gleaming flowers come in many shades and bloom through summer and autumn. Loves sunny spots.
Bacopa (Sutera cordata) – Easy to care for trailing plant that produces tonnes of flowers from May to October and comes in a range of whites, creams, pinks and blues.
Begonia – Vibrant, bold flowering plant that doesn’t like direct sunlight. Perfect for a jungle garden. Unfairly considered a bit outdated! Blooms through the summer and comes in trailing and upright varieties.
Viola – Hardy, varied, and easy to care for upright – the more exciting relative of the pansy. Flowers spring through autumn. Edible flowers that look great in salads and on cakes!
Forget-me-not (Myosotis) – Does as well in shade as in sun, producing delicate clouds of blue flowers. Easy to care for and spreads gently meaning more and more flowers year on year.