Notes from the garden

Meet our Gardener in Residence

Sally Anne Preece is gardener in residence at our Malvern Garden Building show sites in Lacock, Wiltshire and Shepperton, Greater London.

She originally studied Fine Art and exhibited in galleries in Cornwall before doing a second degree in horticulture and a NVQ in social care.

In her spare time, she enjoys figurative painting and still life in oils from her garden studio pavilion. She brings her creative vision to gardening focussing on colour, structure and form.


Inspiration & Key Influences

One of her garden design heroines is Gertrude Jekyll who famously said,

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

Sally Anne shares Jekyll’s passion for companion planting. She also follows the “no dig system” in her own Cottage Garden:

“For me, gardening is spiritual. You go somewhere else. Gardening is great as therapy, for socialising and to gain life skills.”

Gardening as Therapy

Sally Anne is also the founder of a horticultural therapy project supporting adults with autism for the Kingwood Trust called, “Let’s grow”. The group enjoys being out in the fresh air, exercising and learning new skills but also gains a great sense of achievement from growing, picking and eating their own fruit and vegetables.

Bulbs being planted in container



  • Put mulch down before weeds get going, now the ground is warming up
  • Get a head start on tomatoes and peppers if you have a greenhouse (there’s plenty of lovely ones to choose from at our show sites)
  • Chit potatoes
  • Plant shallots and onions
  • Prune roses to encourage new growth
  • Order seeds and plug plants ready for containers and hanging baskets


Sally Anne’s advice is don’t be intimidated even if your plot of land is overrun with weeds. Start by testing the soil for texture and pH balance. Discover which parts of the garden are shady and light. This preparation will lead to better success once you start planting.

Or start off small with a window box or raised bed. Experiment. Learn as you go. Pair perfumed plants with edibles and see what great colour and texture combinations grow.


A garden is the perfect place to find yourself when you need to lose yourself.

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