Plant life | An Interview with Sophy Lennon

It has never been so fashionable to have green fingers. We have certainly been inspired by the recent surge of terrariums, planters and colourful accessories available. And, for those of us who are garden-less, the stylish options for bringing the green indoors are endless.

Plant Life Inspiration by Tootsa MacGinty

Clockwise from top left: 1 Hanging Pots // 2 Vertical Succulent Planter // 3 Ferm Living SS15 featuring Urban Jungle Bloggers // 4 Grit Table // 5 A collection of ceramics by Jungalow // 6 + 7 house plant shoot for Casa de Valentina

So we wanted to speak to someone who knows her stuff when it comes to plant life and gardening tips.

Sophy Lennon lives in London and is a freelance garden designer. She is mother to three children, 9, 7 and 5 years old.

Today we ask her how to get kids excited about the outside, and some advice on making our lives a little more green.

Sophy Lennon & kids

Sophy Lennon & her children

Tootsa: When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in garden design?

Sophy: Plants, planting and re-design have always been a favourite pastime, but it was only when I designed a garden for a friend as a favour that I realised I could make a career change. Last summer I finished a three year diploma in Garden Design and I am now enjoying designing gardens for a living.

Tootsa: What are your earliest memories of gardening?

Sophy: From an early age I helped in the garden. I used to have my own flowerbed, which I re-designed when I was seven. My grandfather loved growing vegetables and flowers. I have fond memories of sewing seeds, tying canes and picking sweetpeas. It was always fun to visit and see how they were doing. Spelling was never my strong point, but my granny insisted I learn the Latin for each plant in her garden. I thought she was eccentric but it has helped enormously.

Sophy's Kids & Sunflowers

Sophy’s children cutting sunflowers

Tootsa: Do you garden with your children?

Sophy: My children love being in the garden but they are young and want quick results. They grow herbs, strawberries, sweetpeas, sunflowers and lots of bulbs. My daughter grew beans last year and my son made wigwams with bamboo sticks for them to grow on. They also enjoy visiting gardens, picking and pressing flowers, as well as fruit picking.

Tootsa: What type of activities would you suggest an adult could enjoy with young children to get them involved in plant life? 

Sophy: Children love looking, exploring and collecting. I-spy and nature spotting books can get them thinking about plants as well as insects and birds. Kew Gardens, The National Trust and RHS have a good selection of activities for children. When gardening with children, the main rule is; don’t be too precious, experiment and have fun. Keep a diary. If it doesn’t work out hypothesise why and try it another way. If you have space, a child might like his or her own border or a large pot to create a fairy or troll garden. Try sunflowers, calendula, poppy, coriander, chives, sweet basil, carrots and beans.

National Trust Kids Garden

The National Trust Community Garden section of Trengwainton

Tootsa: At this time of year what should we be planting that are easy to maintain?

Sophy: Now it’s getting warmer, you can plant many things directly outside, for example: sunflowers, nasturtiums, poppies, cornflowers, nigella, lettuce, carrots, peas, runner beans, chives and coriander. Check you plant them in the right place and don’t forget to water them.

Tootsa: Terrariums and succulent planters have become increasingly popular recently, what would your advice be when buying these? 

Sophy: I have seen some beautiful terrariums and succulent planters lately. They look great all year round as long as they are in a sunny, sheltered location and watered sparingly. They don’t like wet feet, so good drainage is key. A straggly plant is probably reaching out for better light conditions.

Tootsa: For those of us with no garden, what tips do you have for window boxes and maximizing the green in our lives?

Sophy: I am a strong believer in choosing the right plant for the right place. Think about whether the box will sit in the sun or shade, a windy or sheltered site, and choose plants that will thrive in that position. You can have a lot of fun putting different plant combinations together, but don’t forget watering is a must!

Tootsa: Where are your favourite places to buy garden furniture and accessories? 

Sophy: I am a fan of bespoke seating with storage and cushions made in a fabric of choice. I also love the Cacoon hanging chair. It is fun for adults and children, reasonably priced and looks good in a modern garden. Go Modern and Habitat are also in my address book!

Tootsa: We know your kids are fans of Tootsa MacGinty, do they have any favorites from the Spring Summer collection?

They love the bright colours. My daughter loves the dresses with big pockets so she can collect flowers and shells.

Need some activities for kids in the garden? We have sourced a few child friendly garden items that are sure to add a bit of excitement and fun to the idea of spending time outside –

Children in the Garden

1 Host a few creepy crawlies with the Little Thoughtful Gardener Insect Hotel | Wild & Wolf // 2 Tootsa MacGinty Light Denim Smock Dress – with big pockets to collect those flowers and shells! // 3 Watch them grow with the Deluxe Root Viewer from Fat Brain Toys // 4 Leopard Sleeve T-Shirt in Apple Green from Tootsa MacGinty // 5 Bring on the butterflies with this ButterflyBom from Ohh Deer. Contains a wildflower mix loved by butterflies – throw it and grow it! // 6 The perfect summer throw on, Tootsa MacGinty’s Multi – Stripe Espadrilles // 7 From your garden to your kitchen – Kids Veggie Patch Kit from Eco Toys // 8 Summer sun chino shorts from Tootsa MacGinty // 9 The Bonsai chair from Cacoon – the perfect hang out for kids! //

And for the adults – whether inside or out, you can grow plants with style and colour!

Plant Life

1 Hex Spora from Light + Ladder – “Organic form finds stillness in geometric order” perfect for small succulents // 2 Create a garden anywhere with the Living Wall Planter from Woolly Pocket // 3 The Tripod Terrarium from Fort Standard is the stylish gardener’s must have // 4 Inspired by the faithful coffee pot, this Lungo Watering Pot from TwentyTwentyOne is a perfect garden accessory // 5 Make your own gorgeous Mini Face Planters with this DIY from Sugar and Cloth // 6 Display in style with Urban Outfitter’s Metal Plant Stand // 7 These Thoughtful Gardener Tools come with turquoise painted wooden handles and hanging loops // 8 Brighten up a window with this Leon yellow and green metal planter box from Habitat // 9 Mollie Makes will teach you how to make this colourful plant hanger //

If you missed the Chelsea Flower show last week, then get yourself to Hampstead Heath, London for the contemporary garden fair Grow London 19-21 June 2015.


Returning to Hampstead Heath, GROW London is an inspiring day out bursting with ideas on how to transform your outside space, no matter how large or small.”

Happy planting!

by Lisa Dwyer Hogg

No comments yet