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How to recreate Babington House’s gardens at home

Babington House lead gardener, Sophie Martin, shares her expertise with inspiration from her favourite features in the Walled Garden and surrounding woodland gardens

By Megan Murray

Babington House is a restful 'home away from home' for city dwellers to escape to the country. And, at the heart of this Georgian manor is its gardens, which have always had a special place in Soho House's story. The Walled Garden is the birthplace of Cowshed and the botanics grown there have inspired many of our home fragrances, while the woodland gardens are the perfect place to go for a walk.

Sophie Martin has been managing Babington's gardens for seven years, and over that time has created an aesthetic that's both beautiful and real - from vegetables that can be used in the kitchens to floral displays inside the House.

Here, Martin shares her tips for getting the Babington House look in your garden, whether it's a city balcony or your own patch of rural wilderness.

Add colour and texture with wildflowers

'When I first started working with Babington House, the gardens were very green as they were mostly made up of vegetables. So, one of the first things I did was introduce some colour. I love cosmos for this, but wildflowers are really popular right now.

'I do an annual flower mix, full of varieties such as poppies and daisies, which will only live one year's life cycle. You can choose the type of seeds that work for you, whether that's perennial or annual.

'For a more organic, soft aesthetic, try a hay meadow. It looks grassier and has fewer flowers. There's a wild feel to it, which is definitely how gardening is going.

'Whatever you choose, wildflowers are really easy to plant. All you need to do is clear the beds, add compost, then sow the seeds. My advice is to stick to the instructions on the packet. People often think there aren't enough seeds and so they keep on scattering them, which can crowd the flowers and prevent them from growing.'

Use cuttings from the garden as floral displays

'This year, for the very first time, we're using cuttings from Babington's gardens for our flowers inside the House. This look is really taking off, because it's beautiful but approachable; you're really bringing the outside in.

'If you want to have your own cuttings next year, start planting bulbs for daffodils and tulips this autumn and they'll be ready for spring. My advice would be to look through bulb catalogues in August, make sure they're ordered for September, and are planted by October.

'Be creative, too. Don't pick the same variety of tulips that you usually see. There are so many different types, so experiment with shape and size. I love tiny baby tulips - it's interesting to see the contrast in height.'

Create a feature with salvaged materials

'At Babington, our aim is to create a garden that's beautiful, but also accessible. It should feel like going to a friend's home who's enthusiastic about gardening, but not ornamental to the extent that it looks completely unachievable.

'One of the ways I do this is by getting creative with our displays. Instead of commissioning a structure to be designed and built for me, I like salvaging old materials for a rustic look.

'I recently bought rusty, reinforced concrete metal grids, which I've positioned upright in the garden. I've laced climber plants around them to create this aesthetically pleasing edge, with a juxtaposition between the flowers and industrial structure. It's not too perfect.

'Anyone can do it. Go to a builder's yard and pick something up to make a display that's different to what you'd usually do.'

Embrace wildness with ornamental grasses

'If you're putting together floral arrangements inside the house, my advice is to be more wild. Instead of traditional flowers, try ornamental grasses. Wild carrot is lovely; it's a flowering plant, which is typically white, but you can find it in a variety of colours.

'Quaking grass has pretty little heads and looks great in a vase, as well as in the garden. Ornamental grasses are so easy to grow from seed, and you can have them as a filler for gaps in a border or among the front of a hedge. Then, you can keep cutting them for vases, too.'

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