Lee Burkhill, aka Garden Ninja, is an award-winning garden designer, horticultural expert, presenter on BBC1’s ‘Garden Rescue’ and the owner of a hugely popular gardening YouTube channel. Having studied Horticulture with the RHS at Edinburgh Botanical gardens, he has 35 years of hands-on experience and has designed hundreds of urban gardens. Lee’s excellent videos are a great way to pick up practical tips and his passion for his subject makes them a joy to watch.
Shortlisted for the Garden Media Guild’s Individual Social Media Influencer of the Year Award 2023, we caught up with Lee to learn a bit about his professional journey and the highlights of his career so far. Here’s what he told us…
Tell us how you got into gardening?
I’ve always been a gardener, since I was a child. During my teenage years I became a secret gardener when I was bullied at school. It’s been a real lifeline for me during difficult times. Gardening is a constant friend that’s there to amaze and support you without asking for much in return. There’s magic within gardening that combines creativity and science.
What’s your greatest gardening achievement?
I think my Chelsea win a few years back was my greatest achievement on paper. Especially as I was still a relative newcomer to the world of garden design. But also getting the call to say Garden Rescue wanted me to join as a new presenter was pretty special. It has been an incredible way to reach a huge daily audience with my gardening tips and design tricks.
How has social media impacted your gardening journey?
I owe a lot to social media. It’s a great tool that really helped to share the guides and ‘behind the design’ tricks that I publish on my garden design blog www.gardenninja.co.uk. Social media helps me reach a really wide audience and, as the social media platforms have developed, the audiences have too. You can now create really niche content and cross the world with your work!
What’s your single, most important piece of gardening advice?
My top tip is: read the instructions twice (or my blog articles once) 🤣
How has a garden or landscape influenced your work or personal gardening style?
My own garden is my trial ground, both for design and planting experimentation, so I’d have to say Garden Ninja HQ! I believe that you have to have experience of something to educate or talk about it, so everything I publish or present is based on my own, first-hand experience. I never just do some quick online research or follow a social media trend. I think that’s where my content really managed to stand out and helped me get shortlisted for the Garden Media Guild Social Media Influencer of the Year Award. It’s expert and approachable.
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have three plants – one practical, one beautiful, and one unusual, what would they be?
- Practical would be perpetual kale so I could sustain myself.
- For something unusual, I’d take a Feijoa tree for shade and fruit.
- For the beauty it would have to be Rudbeckia which can literally survive anywhere, especially with all that free-draining sandy soil!
I’ve got a few exciting projects in the pipeline as the Garden Ninja ‘experience’ seeks to take over the world of gardening even more than it already has. But as always, I’d hate to ruin the surprise! What I can say is that it will be fresh, innovative and will dispel plenty of the gardening myths that seem to perpetuate a lot of social content. So watch this space!
More about the Garden Media Guild Awards
Each year, the Garden Media Guild celebrates our most talented gardening professionals with a selection of coveted awards. Their shortlists feature gardeners who inspire the nation with their enthusiasm and well-communicated wisdom including authors, journalists, photographers, vloggers, podcasters and gardening influencers. The entrants are judged by their peers and experts in the field.
This year, Thompson & Morgan is delighted to sponsor the ‘Individual Social Media Influencer of the Year Award’. This special award is for “the communicator who inspires, educates or informs followers about gardening by posting regularly on one or more platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok or others), generating an engaged following, replying to questions and comments and interacting with followers.” For the full list of GMG awards, visit their website.
Garden Ninja, Lee Burkhill, is an RHS multi award winning Garden Designer from the North West of England covering Manchester, Liverpool, Southport and the Cheshire region. He is one of the presenters on BBC1’s Garden Rescue and he runs the Award Winning Garden Ninja blog & YouTube channel to help troubleshoot your garden design problems.