Game of Thrones star Harry Lloyd: ‘Gardening is the perfect antidote to acting’

Where do you live and what kind of garden do you have?

My wife, Jayne, and I have recently moved from north to south London and we’ve got a small but wonderful garden at the back of the house. Right from the start, I knew it would be important to us, because our four-year-old daughter, Saylor, loves ­playing ­outside. We have enough room for a patio by the back door, an artificial lawn in the middle and raised beds on all sides, where we’ve planted some of our favourite things – Japanese maple, jasmine, wisteria, lavender, white roses and plenty of rosemary, thyme and bay.

When did you first get into gardening?

When we were at our previous house, in Wood Green, north London. It was a big fixer-upper, so everything needed doing, including the garden, which had a few shrubs but was mainly full of rubble. By chance, I bumped into an old friend of mine at a school reunion who just happened to have trained as a landscape gardener, and he came over to help us design something from scratch. That’s what really got me started. It was also a new period in my life; Jayne and I got married and Saylor was born. There was a sense of the garden being a part of that.

Were you in that house long enough to enjoy all the work you had put in?

Definitely. At the bottom of the garden was a grapevine, with a stocky trunk in the ground and its branches, all knotted and twisted, clinging to the back fence. We gave it a prune and built a proper structure for it to hang over, and the ­following summer, to our amazement, it came bursting back to life, creating this wonderful arbour to sit under. Not only that, but hanging from every branch were grapes. I couldn’t believe it. That was a game-changer for me. I began to see its magnificence. We found out that it was more than 60 years old, so we felt it was our duty to take care of it. It was the most peaceful place in the world, my favourite spot to read through scripts, write and just… think.

Did you have a garden as a child?

I grew up in Hammersmith, in a terraced house that had wisteria climbing up the front and a small garden at the back. There was very little space to grow anything in the ground, so Mum, who loves gardening, used to fill it with flowerpots. It was my granny’s garden in the Sussex countryside, when I was a little boy, that really stands out. She was a passionate gardener and had flowerbeds everywhere. She also had a huge lawn where I’d play for hours, and when I got tired of that, I’d do things like find a large stick and go round thwacking nettles. Beyond the garden was ­wood­land, which to a city boy was the equivalent of total wilderness.

As the great-great-great- grandson of Charles ­Dickens, did you know he was ­passionate about gardening?

Dickens comes down through my ­mother’s side of the family – her maiden name was Dickens, so I certainly knew about him, growing up. In fact, after Eton, I studied English at Oxford and did my thesis on the relationship between Dickens and his illustrators. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time ­studying his work and life, and he had a beautiful garden at Gad’s Hill Place, his country home in Kent, which is now a school.

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