The Balcony Gardener Interview with The Pothole Gardener

Image: The Little Book of Little Gardens Book by Steve Wheen

Over the past few months we have featured a number of different gardening groups, ingenious garden designers and different campaigning groups. One of our favourite blogs was The Pothole Gardener, an Australian called Steve Wheen living in London who creates miniature gardens on the corners of our streets and in potholes. Since his first gardens appeared a few years ago, Steve has gone onto create gardens with the Duchess of Cornwall, travelled to New York and design pothole gardens for Milan Design Week. His website takes 25,000 hits a month and Steve’s book “The Little Book of Little Gardens” will be out later this year. We’ve been long-term fans of Steve’s work and were delighted when he had a spare five minutes to have a chat with us.

Image: The Pothole Gardener Blog

We asked him firstly about how the project started and how he finds gardening in the city, Steve said “my first garden was very simple just a few petunias in a Pothole just around the corner. I started around 4 years ago.I really only garden on the footpath, never on busy roads. I think the very fact that the city street is not a gentle place makes the little gardens even more special. My gardens are ephemeral by their very nature, which is why I think people are so excited when they come across one.”

Image: The Pothole Gardener Blog

We were particularly pleased to see the  gardens for the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee, and wanted to find out about other themed designs and a starting motif for a garden. As Steve says, “I’ve done loads of themed gardens – the royal wedding, a Love London garden after the royal wedding etc. My gardens are a creative outlet for me, so anything that is running around in my head I’ll try and form a garden out of. I’d love to travel more and do more gardens around the world. I’ve gardened in New York, Bristol and India in the past year. What I find really exciting is when people send me their pothole gardens.”

Image: The Pothole Gardener

The miniature props always look fantastic in the gardens, we wanted to know if he built them himself and what happened to them afterwards? “Sometimes I build the props or people like to send them to me. I usually leave the gardens where I plant them! Sometimes I glue down the props so they stay there for longer.”

Image: The Pothole Gardener

Pedestrians walking past the gardens always have such pleasant things to say about the work, we wanted to know what some of the best responses are, “if you watch holes of happiness, I love it when people try and rationalize the gardens – why are they there? Why am I doing this? A lot of people think I’m mad…” And finally, we wanted to know why miniature? Does he ever feel limited by the size and crave a larger scale garden? “I think rather than limiting, it is liberating. There is something about miniatures which is very inspiring. Children play with miniature cars etc for hours on end and I think somehow my gardens are helping people to reconnect with their inner child.”

The Little Book of Little Gardens by Steve Wheen, available for pre-sale on Amazon.