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At Home with The Hackney Gardener, Stina Hasan

the hackney gardener

A Fashion Designer’s Urban Oasis

In the East London borough of Hackney, Swedish-born fashion designer Stina Hasan has carved out an urban oasis in the small garden of her family home.

the hackney gardener stina hasan

Journey to Hackney

Arriving in London from Sweden over 20 years ago, Stina Hasan first set up a home in West London with a friend. “But when I met my husband, Simon, a furniture and product designer, our journey eastward began,” she recounts.

Settling in Hackney

Settling in Hackney, the vibrant East London borough is more than a location for Stina; it is an immersive experience. “We have been in Hackney for over 20 years now, and I really can’t picture myself anywhere else. This area is so diverse and has an energy that I love,” she says.

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Surrounded by shops, cafes, and the lush expanses of Victoria Park, Hackney Marshes, and the Olympic Park, Stina relishes the dynamic blend of urban living and green spaces.

Creating a “Forever Home”

When Stina moved to her “forever home,” the city witnessed not only the blossoming of a family, with the couple’s now nine-year-old son, Monty, but also a garden. By day, Stina works as a fashion designer. Still, in the evenings and at weekends, she tends to her garden, sharing her passion for gardening with the world online under the moniker The Hackney Gardener.

“I always was into gardening,” she says. “I just didn’t realise until I had my first garden.”

A Family Tradition

As green-fingered matriarchs, her mother and grandmother reveled in the joy of cultivating plants. Stina recalls the frequent conversations that grew around flowers and foliage and childhood memories of being surrounded by the verdant outdoors. In those moments, she discovered a sense of joy and excitement that would stay with her through the years.

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Rediscovering Gardening

However, the bustling city life brought with it a departure from garden pursuits, and for a time, other interests took centre stage in Stina’s life. Yet, life has a way of circling back to its roots: “When I found myself with a tiny plot of land in which to grow things, I realised how much I loved it.” It was here, in the heart of the concrete jungle, that she rekindled her love for gardening.

The Small City Garden

In her small city garden, Stina finds respite from the demands of daily life. Her favourite spot lies at the heart of the rose garden, especially on a sun-kissed June morning when she opens the back door and is greeted by the intoxicating scent of flowers in bloom.

“There is always a lot to do, but I want it to be a relaxing place, and I’m careful not to turn gardening into a chore,” she explains. Following her instincts, she potters among a wealth of perennials – “nothing fancy or exotic” – and undertakes small tasks between the hardy geraniums, nepeta, and lady’s mantle that accompany her beloved roses: “In a small space, you need things that look good throughout the seasons. Roses are my favourites to cultivate. They have a reputation for being tricky, but I think they are quite straightforward. And the reward when the first flush of blooms arrives is unbeatable.”

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Observing the Seasons

As she stands amidst the greenery, observing the shifts and changes the seasons bring, Stina recognises the subtle signs of life even in the depths of wintertime. “Even in mid-winter, if you look closely enough, things are stirring with life. That truly fascinates me.”

Advice for Urban Gardeners

Her advice for budding urban gardeners is as simple as her garden itself: “Just keep trying things and don’t be put off by overwhelming advice or outdated rules. Gardening is about the process, so just enjoy watching things evolve and remember that failure is part of it. And get some roses!”

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Picture of Pendle Harte

Pendle Harte

Pendle Harte joined Zest in 2012 as launch editor of Absolutely Notting Hill, Zest's first London title, and then became launch editor of Absolutely Home magazine in 2018. Now she edits the London portfolio, sourcing content on all things London related, from food to culture via fashion, interiors and health. Pendle is a lifelong Londoner whose interests include books, clothes, theatre and spelling. She lives with her partner and their two teenage daughters in north west London.
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