No Name Nursery
To visit the intriguingly called ‘No Name Nursery ‘in East Kent is an exhilarating experience. In just three years Steve Edney and his partner Lou Dowle have established a veritable horticultural tour de force. The scope of the enterprise is astonishing for both its vast range of plants and also for how well established the garden looks. The couple’s energy, enthusiasm and drive are remarkable. As is their considerable charm.
Steve is well known to garden aficionados for his work in his former position as Head Gardener at The Salutation in Kent. He is currently engaged in an ambitious project creating a ‘dry garden’ in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral. He serves on the RHS Herbaceous committee and won a Gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show in 2019.
Lou and Steve began work on the three-acre site during the first lockdown. It is the fruition of a long-held dream for which they had been saving over many years. ‘I am in my early 40s and I thought if I don’t do it now I never will’, says Steve.
The vision was for the site to be as low maintenance as possible with minimum watering and as sustainable as possible. It is off grid.
The main feature at the moment is an impressive 100ft long border planted with literally thousands of perennials. In time as other areas of the garden mature it will face stiff competition for the most interesting area.
The border is at it’s best in June, but as the seasons gradually turn into autumn and then segue into winter it becomes a dazzling display of attractive seedheads and billowing grasses. By late October all deadheading stops. It is eventually cut back in early March. In this year’s excessively hot summer it was only watered three times.
‘We add a few annuals each year but nothing with white or yellow flowers, we prefer moody blues.’
Steve is widely renowned for his dahlia prowess. ‘I have great fun crossing seeds and breeding new plants.’ Boasting that he has 45 different types of wild species dahlias.
The nursery also includes a nut walk, an orchard of thirty-five fruit trees including mulberries, medlars, apples and pears and most intriguingly a polytunnel devoted to exotic succulents. ‘I love plants that are really tactile.’
Like all true gardeners, Steve and Lou are always assessing the plants they are growing, working out how to propagate them, where they thrive and so on. ‘That way we are always refreshing our knowledge’ says Steve.
I hope to go back to No Name Nursery next summer but for the moment this is a brief snapshot of one of the most interesting horticultural projects in Southern England.
No Name took part in a co-operative nursery design and build with 7 other nurseries at the 2023 Chelsea Flower Show.
Also featured on Gardeners World 20th October 2023.