Margaret Howell has been designing men’s and womenswear for five decades, prioritising understated quality over trends: she makes beautiful clothes that work well. Fifty years after she started to design and sell clothes from her home in Blackheath, South London, there are now 80 Margaret Howell stores across the globe, from Paris to Tokyo, and she has been appointed a CBE for services to the retail industry.

Margaret has been inspired by the natural world since childhood, citing the impact of growing up in a family that gardened and her fathers’ workwear as influences on her work. I love Margaret’s aesthetic, from her stores to her shirts, and was intrigued to see how this approach translated to her garden. So in this episode we visit Margaret at her home - still in Blackheath - to talk about how and why she grows. On a late spring afternoon we are immersed in the green haven that is her back garden, where Margaret works with nature, rather than against it.

This podcast is inspired by my book, Why Women Grow: Stories of Soil, Sisterhood and Survival, which is out on March 2nd and available to pre-order now.

The Why Women Grow podcast is produced by Holly Fisher, and theme music is by Maria Chiara Argiro. Thank you to our partners at Seedlip. We’ve also been photographing our guests and their gardens and you can see the beautiful images captured by Siobhan Watts on my instagram account @noughticulture.

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