Emily Barnes

Garden Designer & Plant Specialist

My role as designer and plant specialist includes consulting on and creating gorgeous planting schemes and collaborating on garden design concepts ranging from a blank canvas to design tweaks.

I have always been beguiled by the beauty of the natural world, an interest that has gradually distilled down to an obsession with plants. I like to get stuck in the all aspects of garden creation and I’m not averse to getting my hands dirty but do love a splash of luxury now and then! My hobbies and interests revolve around a desire to create a simple life for myself and my family with a strong focus on nature, health and wellbeing. These include gardening and growing, art, hiking, wild swimming and exploring new places. I’m always on the hunt for inspiration and my dream is to travel and visit a wide variety of natural landscapes, gardens and cultures around the world.

With a background in graphic design, retraining to become a garden designer in my late 20’s combined two of my greatest passions – plants and design. I feel very lucky to have found a calling that I both enjoy and that has the ability to improve lives (if only in a small way) with the gardens we design and create at Bestall & Co. Of the many things I love about horticulture and garden design, the most important one for me is the power it has to connect and ground us to nature and the positive impact and stillness a garden can bring to our hectic modern lives. As humans, we have evolved with an inbuilt biophilic response to the natural world. Being immersed in planting in a beautiful outdoor space is so good for mind, body and soul.

A bit of trivia…

I can’t imagine working in anything other than the horticultural industry but if I wasn’t a designer, I would most likely be a nurserywoman, artist or plant hunter.

If money were no object, after traveling and seeing the world, I would settle down at the coast to set about converting an old farm or estate into an ecologically friendly wellbeing retreat complete with plant nursery, sustainable and immersive gardens, natural swimming pond and large expanses of wild areas.

Although the idea of living on a desert island ‘in comfort’ is very appealing to me, the thought of being stranded on one alone is certainly not! If I had to list only three desert island essentials, they would be fishing tackle, a boat (with motor and fuel) and a map detailing instruction on how to leave and get home!

If I could choose anyone to play me in a film of my life it would be Emma Watson who I admire so much for her work towards women’s rights and her elegant and unapologetic sense of self.

I very much hope we will meet one day to discuss all things garden and plants, but until then I will leave you with a joke (from a pitiful collection) and some plant geek trivia.

What do you call a man with a spade on his head? – Doug

Hydrangea, Hellebore and Cornus kousa are widely grown for their long-lasting, showy flowers which are actually not flowers botanically speaking, but modified leaves called bracts. They have the same function as a petal – acting as a homing-beacon/bullseye to attract pollinating insects. If you look closely, you will see the actual flowers are tiny and quite insignificant, grouped together in the centre. The bracts last much longer than petals and go through some wonderful colour changes as they age.