The Secret Gardener - Deborah Meaden of Dragon's Den

The star of BBC’S Dragon Den is a highly successful business woman, but she also gets some of her greatest fulfilment from her garden and surrounding land in rural Somerset.

When Deborah and her husband Paul bought the farmhouse and land over 12 years ago, there was no garden, just lots of barns and yards.  They have been nurturing this space back to life ever since.  The near, more formal garden, is where Deborah likes to start her day, cup of tea in hand – she has laid pavers in order to do a full circuit, whatever the season.  ‘It gives me a moment of peace to get my mind together,’ she says.

Although Deborah enjoys the activity of weeding, she’s happy to leave speedwell to flower and is a great believer in ‘right plant, right place'.  'I’ve got plants that have migrated around the garden and I’ve adapted the garden to accommodate them,’ she says.  Favourite plants include blue bearded Iris with silvery leaves. ‘I am always trying to grow more — much to the amusement of my husband who raises his eyebrows whenever he sees me dividing them up to replant them.’  The couple also have a big organic vegetable patch.

The land beyond the ‘closer’ garden is very natural and they do all they can to encourage nature, including planting trees such as lime, oak, birch, hazel and plane along with saplings such as blackthorn and hawthorn.  They’ve also stopped cutting back the hedgerows after summer and leave their grass longer in the winter as a habitat for mice and moles.  Deborah is a supporter of climate-friendly businesses, and says watching nature come back onto the land with swifts, swallows and house martins, woodpeckers, nightingales, owls and greenfinches has been her greatest investment.

There’s also a large pond outside her back door with wildflowers, rushes and reeds that attracts otters, wild ducks and herons, kingfishers as well as frogs, dragonflies.  ‘Paul and I love sitting in a favourite spot in the garden and observing all the activity around us.  Sometimes I’ll get a text from him if I’m indoors saying, “Quick, come here. You’ll never guess what I’m looking at.” '