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All About Alison

Gardening by Design is my second career. I spent 20 years working in software project management and I now use many of the same skills such as analysing problems, coaching and writing when I help people in their gardens. I see both IT and gardening as a meld of science and creativity – well that’s my theory – and I am repeatedly frustrated at TV gardening programs’ lack of time to explain things properly to viewers. Explanation and understanding enable gardeners to get so much more out of their efforts.

alison marsden

The most empowering things for beginner gardeners to understand are how plants grow (lifecycle, nutrition) and how to look after and/or improve their soil. These might sound like dull and scientific topics but believe me, they are the foundation of successful gardening and a little knowledge can save a lot of money in failed plants. Plus I have some great animated slides that explain the basics!

As you might expect from my background I am an organised gardener and always have a plan. When buying plants, which I love to do, I usually have something specific in mind otherwise I know what size, colour and flowering season I want and then see what is available and looking healthy. Inevitably there are some impulse buys (especially when I am plant shopping with my husband) but I will always identify a suitable spot in the garden before buying.

I have studied plants and garden design formally and informally for more than 20 years, well before I turned to gardening professionally and recently passed the newly introduced RHS Level 3 Certificates in the Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation and in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting. I am particularly proud of obtaining these qualifications, not only for the value of everything I learned but also because they are hard exams to pass.

I live and garden in West Kent and as well as providing one-to-one coaching and garden design advice I teach a range of gardening courses for Kent Adult Education services and run practical workshops at the wonderful Riverhill Himalayan Gardens and at the LovinglyMade craft school & vintage emporium.

I curate the weekly #WoolliesAskAlison slot on Thursday evening’s 8-9 on twitter. Read more about that here. See you there?