How to have IT in the Garden by Vandra Costello


Inspired by Alexa Chung’s new ‘book’, I have decided that it is time I too allowed a grateful public a few glimpses into my glamorous world and shared a few tips on how to be fab like me.  It’s more a stream of [self] consciousness and a list of things I like and really useful tips. I am waiting in anticipation for Penguin to come knocking on my door bearing large wad of cash in advance of sales.


Gardening is probably the main, number one thing I can do — that I’m best at. Gardening is also a really cool thing do. Gardening means plants and stuff that you ‘grow’ in a ‘garden’. If you would like to get into gardening it would help if you had some land. A small field will do, or even a real ‘garden’ at the back of your house. I like to curate my garden with a mixture of plants; some trees and weird little tree things called shrubs and even some flowers. Flowers are things that grow in the ground. They have petals and some smell.  Flowers are not to be confused with flour. Flour is a white powdery thing you use to make cakes with. (Note: never eat flour. Flour based products include bread, biscuits, pasta and other stuff that can make you fat.) You can eat some flowers – Nigella eats flowers in her Pimms and puts flowers on her salads. To be on the safe side buy these flowers in a shop.

I buy plants from lots of places. If you like vintagey stuff you can shop for flowers in markets or you can just go to a shop.  Like Alexa I have a weird mental block every time I go shopping that means I forget what I already own the moment I cross the threshold.  

Making a Garden

If you would like to have a garden you can hire someone called a ‘garden designer’ to draw one for you. Then you can look for a little man to come and do all the dirty work and digging while you look on and look pretty.

Garden Style Icons

When I am in the garden I like to reference some of my favourite gardening heroines. Sometimes I reference Demi Moore in Indecent proposal and wear a tea dress tucked into my knickers, a straw hat and a fetching plumber’s belt to hold my tools in. When channelling Demi it is important not to get any muck on yourself or your clothes. You can use a brightly coloured trowel and pretend to be planting lettuce which you can buy already grown in shops.

Another person I like to reference is Vita Sackville-West – for this look it helps if you are quite old and have an incipient moustache. Wear a floppy hat and plus fours with boots. Ask a friend to come and help you and pretend she is your new Sapphic bit on the side. She’s also my favourite character to reference when getting dressed in summer months, although it helps if you own a castle or historic house to pull this one off.

If I am having issues of gender confusion I work an Alan Titchmarsh look – a nice Bawneen Jersey and matching cap from Blarney woollen mills worn with a pair of slacks usually does the trick. When feeling Titchmarshy I like to build in the garden and makee rockeries out of concrete or create mini Japanese gardens filled with dwarf conifers and a goldfish pond.

My relationship with my wellies is incredibly special. I have a large collection of wellies which I archive and keep in my shed. (Note: never confuse wellies with willies, this can lead to trouble). I also have kind of a thing going on with gardening gloves; I have hundreds of single gloves in different colours and materials which I mix ‘n’ match for a funky look. When I get new gloves I dedicate some time at home to shoving mud on them so they don’t look squeaky clean.

Beauty in the Garden

I like to rock a simple look in the garden. Eyeliner aside, sometimes I go crazy and add a red lip to my make-up look, but it has to be a very special occasion. To add authenticity to the outdoors look scatter some twigs and bits of manure in your hair. My favourite garden scent is eau de merde.

So now I have let you into my psyche I hope you will be inspired to become as fab as me.


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