New career could be blossoming for a green-fingered interior designer near Harborough

She turned her designer’s eye to the garden - which has changed the way she looks at working in the great outdoors

By Laura Kearns
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:19 am
Emma Clanfield in her garden
Emma Clanfield in her garden

A new career could be blossoming for a green-fingered interior designer near Harborough after she turned her hand to gardening.

Textile and interior designer Emma Clanfield spent years living and working in the Middle East and Aberdeen before moving to Willoughby Waterleys in 2016.

While she first had to renovate the house on Yew Tree Close, she then turned her designer’s eye to the garden - which has changed the way she looks at working in the great outdoors.

Before and after of Emma's garden

Emma said: “The garden was overgrown and neglected and while there were a few mature shrubs and landscaping for structure there was still a lot to do.

“I was hooked, especially when I realised anything I planted thrived, which wasn’t my experience in the Middle East or Scotland, which left me craving anything green.”

Emma then heard about the National Garden Scheme, which opens up private gardens for charity while bringing together those with similar interests.

Emma said: “I was encouraged by the other gardeners in the village to open with them for the National Garden Scheme and was plied with lots of home-grown plants and advice.

“What’s really nice about the group opening is that your garden doesn’t have to be large and grand, but the variety of gardens gives visitors lots of great ideas to take away and try at home.”

Her garden has now been transformed into a series of ‘rooms’ including a rose covered arch, lavender hedge, courtyard seating area and raised vegetable plot.

Having been well and truly bit by the green-fingered bug and after having so much time tending to her plants during the pandemic, she signed up to take a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) course in garden planning and maintenance. Emma also became a member of a charity with a scheme helping people retrain as gardeners.

She said: “I signed up for the scheme and in April, with just two RHS exams left to take to complete my course, started working as a trainee at the garden at Stoke Albany House – which also opens for the National Garden Scheme.

“It’s a beautiful garden and I’m learning so much from head gardener Adele, who is very patient and great company.”

Stoke Albany House in Desborough Road spans four acres and includes a walled garden, walk arched with roses, heated greenhouse, topiary, sculptures and water feature garden.

Emma finishes her work as a trainee gardener there next April and then hopes to continue gardening as a career. She added: “I have been lucky to find myself a garden mentor and over the last year I have worked with her and the garden owner at Westbrooke House in Little Bowden for a few hours each week. That led to me working for a garden designer looking after her client’s newly created gardens.”

Late Victorian property Westbrooke House is set across six acres and includes a tree-lined driveway of limes and mature redwoods. There is a wildflower meadow, kitchen garden and lawns.

Emma’s garden will open again next year as part of the National Garden Scheme. Visit findagarden.ngs.org.uk for more information on Stoke Albany House and Westbrooke House, along with other gardens in Market Harborough.