Norfolk-based Sam Brown is otherwise known as the.tattooedgardenerUK on Instagram. Here, he explains how his love of gardening started when he was 13, and why he’s brought out a Seed Planner on Etsy – for those setting out on their gardening journey
My life has been fast paced, partly terrifying but particularly rewarding. This is due to my 14 years served in the RAF, with multiple tours in times of conflict. This has unfortunately enabled me to see vast amounts of suffering, but also massive amounts of heartfelt compassion.
When I was around 13, hiding myself away in a derelict greenhouse in the family garden, I felt a sense of ease and safety within its glass walls. Pretending to pot up plants in sand filled with cat poo gave me a sense of relaxation – though I was literally doing nothing in terms of gardening!
At the start of the pandemic, being a key worker and on standby to help, I felt no immediate effect. Mentally, it has been tough – as it has been for many. I feel the pandemic has directly impacted life decisions and actions that may not be for the best in the future. I also lost my grandmother at the end of the pandemic due to frailty and old age. The mental impact that had on me after two years of her shielding and looking forward to seeing the family again was a struggle. To get through all this, gardening and open spaces have helped massively. Designing, buying and planting during the pandemic gave me a sense of escapism I think I gained from that greenhouse 18 years ago!
I had my first tattoo at 17, which was a Playboy Bunny! In 2007 it was still all the rage and even men could pass it off! Safe to say that got covered two years later when I decided to grow up and maybe have something less childish. To name myself the tattooed gardener was never a foregone conclusion. But to stand out from the rest I had to have a niche that not many of my followers do have. So the.tattooedgardenerUK was born.
My gardening style is ad hoc and very much a ‘stick it here’ approach. Luckily, I own a south facing garden so sun is not an issue whereby most plants thrive. The biggest issue has been keeping the grass in check! Being a pollinator partner, I tend to leave grass and weeds until I can’t take it anymore and have to get the fork and the mower out. This enables me to see what grows and gives pollinators early flowering weeds that usually come out quicker than most perennial plants.
The Seed Planner was an idea after having to constantly get out my box of seeds and sort them to something more functional, near-monthly. I went through every website trying to find something simplistic and easy to read but couldn’t find what I was looking for. A lot of companies or those on Etsy have planners that are too in depth for someone starting out fresh in a garden, which could put some people off. So, the Seed Planner was born with the help of a close friend, Erin.
The seed planner is for those just setting out on their gardening journey, and with the handy tips, gives people the ability to sketch, sort and plant their seeds whenever they like, whatever season and whenever they wish to start. I feel it important for those wishing to start gardening to have a product that is clutter free and not confusing or expensive.
The launch has been slow but very well received. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I’m pleased that those that have purchased the planner are using it and giving me feedback to enable me to launch more products in the future.
With a house move pending, I have three projects in terms of garden design going on, whilst also making bee corridors at my current Station to ensure bees and other pollinators have wildflower meadows to source nutrition from. Being able to do this on such a large site is exciting!
I’m hoping social media pushes the products I make to enable me to then make physical products ready to buy in shops around the UK and on Etsy. Current plans are for gardening notebooks, children’s seed planners, seed delivery and gifts and a planting planner to follow on from the current seed planner! Watch this space!