Tom Simpson, Garden Designer

Tom Simpson, Landscape and Garden designer

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Award-winning garden designer Tom Simpson is designing the Cancer Research UK Legacy Garden.

The garden will be at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival taking place in the future.

It tells the story of how our supporters and researchers pledge to beat cancer for future generations. 


Tom's July Blog

As we move into July, we are met with warm summer evenings and the aftermath of the early summer abundance in our flower beds. This is a month for pottering around the garden, taking care to keep things tidy and enjoying the garden during spells of fine weather. Usually I am absent from the garden in the early part of the month, tending to a very different garden at Hampton Court Garden Festival, but this year I have enjoyed spending time in my own garden lighting the BBQ at any given opportunity and tending to the crop of vegetables I planted in early lockdown. Its during this month that you start to see the fruits of your labour and see the successes and failures of what we planted in early spring.

Jobs for July

  • Cut back faded perennials to keep your borders tidy or if you have the space leave them be to allow seed heads to develop for winter interest that look wonderful in frost
  • Dead head roses or leave flower heads in place if your roses produce attractive hips
  • Dead head sweet peas to keep them flowering regularly
  • Pinch out tomato side shoots regularly – don’t forget to keep them well water watered
  • Harvest beetroot, peas, carrots, chard, potatoes, salad leaves, lettuce and tomatoes – enjoy the fruits of you labour!

Flowers for July

  • Origanum ‘Herrenhausen’ – herbs are not just good for cooking, this oregano has wonderful sprays of pink flowers
  • Echinacea pallida – possibly my favourite echinacea plant, it also has wonderful seed heads over winter
  • Ammi majus – lovely white umbellifer, gives a dose of style to any naturalistic border

Tom's May Blog

Gardens Bloom in May

May is a month of floral abundance as many of our much-loved plants burst into flower. The days are getting longer and warmer with a hint that summer is on its way. If you take a walk in your neighbourhood, you will see front gardens full of roses, peonies, lupins and many other traditional favourites of the garden. A walk in the countryside is just as abundant, with plants such as cow parsley, bluebells and foxgloves making their annual appearance. It is a month of excitement in the garden as familiar plants start to look their best and the garden begins to come into its own.

Jobs for May

  • Harden off half-hardy plants by leaving them outside during the day and bringing them back in a night
  • Trim lavender plants, cutting off old flowerheads and about an inch of this year’s growth
  • Look after finished spring bulbs for next year – resist the temptation to cut back their dead leaves and add liquid fertiliser around the clumps for a better display next year
  • Time to water – best water early in the morning or later in the evening
  • Collect and recycle water whenever possible

More from Tom

Top tip - small is beautiful!

If space is limited or you don’t have a garden, why not try a window box or have some plants outdoors in pots? Grow herbs from seed on a window sill and plant flowers that you can cut and put in a vase. Growing anything, no matter how small or how few, is incredibly satisfying. If space is really limited, try growing chilis in a pot on a window sill indoors.


Tom tells us what it's like to design the Cancer Research UK Legacy Garden

How do you feel about working with Cancer Research UK?

I am thrilled to be working with Cancer Research UK again and hope to build on the success of last year’s RHS show garden. This year’s garden builds on the narrative of gifts in Wills being something everlasting. To leave a legacy gift is to leave something for the benefit of future generations. The garden will be a celebration of these gifts. It pays tribute to those who have left a gift and highlight their importance in funding research.

As a result of working with Cancer Research UK do you feel more connected to the cause?

Yes. During show week in 2019, I felt humbled by some of the stories people would tell me after visiting the garden. Some tragic, and others of survival and hope. I hadn't expected people to engage with the garden as much as they did. In some instances, people left a gift in their Will as a result of visiting the garden. This was the greatest achievement of the garden.

Before your show garden career, you were in Hollywood and even featured in films, can you tell us more?

I worked behind the camera as a crew member on a variety of television programmes and feature films. Everything from daytime BBC dramas to Oscar-winning blockbusters. I have appeared in a couple of films, but only as an extra or one time as a double for the main actor. In the Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne, I appear in one scene as the back of his head. Contrary to belief, for me working in film was never very glamorous.