Interviewer: Jed Stone’s best known now for his talents as a garden designer – but he and his wife Helena ran a highly successful jewellery business in the nineteen nineties, which brought them fame and high living. Then they lost it all and, some years later, bought a derelict house which they renovated and now together they’ve created a garden. They join me in the studio today. You do seem to do most things in partnership, like the jewellery business, but using Jed’s name. Why’s that? Helena?
Helena: Well, this is a bit of a bone of contention, actually. We have a friend in PR who said, “You have a great name, Jed Stone. People would pay a fortune for such a good name.’ But, sadly, at the time, it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get the credit for what we do, and that does get to me sometimes  – but, there again, I’m very bad at putting myself forward. People see Jed as a figurehead, which is fine, actually, because I don’t enjoy being recognised or get any thrill out of that, whereas Jed loves it.
Interviewer: Is that right, Jed?
Jed: Obviously, I’d love to say, ‘No, I don’t,’ but yeah, I do. Even as a child, I thought it must be marvellous to walk down a street and have people know who you were. Ironically, that’s the worst of it now. It would be nice just to go and buy a paper without somebody saying something. But I suppose I do like being a public figure. It gives me a sense that I’ve done something people appreciate . It doesn’t stop me doing anything, but it does modify how I do it.
Interviewer: But Helena, you did appear on our television screens briefly as a presenter on The Travel Show. That must have been a dream job, travelling around the world?
Helena: Actually, I thought I was being heroic taking that job. I’d actually rather have gone down a coal mine. It was ironic really, because Jed adores travelling, whilst I hate it. The timing was critical though; I mean, we were living in this derelict house. We’d knocked huge holes in the walls to make windows and we could hardly afford to get the job finished and I wanted to be there when it was done. So I genuinely didn’t want to do the job they were offering, but I felt I had no choice  because, apart from anything else, it would provide us with a reasonable income.
Interviewer: So what about this jewel garden? Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do when you bought the house?
Jed: Not at all. In fact, we were provoked into action. I was giving a lecture on gardening and I was including some snaps of our own wilderness to show what certain plants looked like. But these photos hadn’t loaded onto my laptop properly, and you couldn’t see a thing. So I started to make it all up – describing this jewel garden with magical colours – it came straight out of my imagination, it hadn’t been a long-term plan or anything. Anyway, as soon as I’d finished, these journalists came rushing up saying, ‘We must come and take pictures of your jewel garden.’ And I heard myself replying, ‘Fine, but come when the colours are good, don’t come now.’ To cut a long story short, we had to make the jewel garden before they came, and actually, we did ninety per cent of the work that summer . That was our incentive!
Interviewer: And why did you call it a ‘jewel garden’? Having read about the disasters with
the jewellery business, one would have thought you wouldn’t want the word
‘jewel’ in your house at all.
Helena: Well, I like to work on projects and if you have a project where you’re thinking only of jewel colours then that starts to limit you, and design is all about reduction. Really it was just a good, positive way of tackling what plants we were putting in, and the way we were going to design the garden , wasn’t it, Jed?
Jed: Yeah. But for me it was also partly a metaphor, it’s making something worthwhile out of a failure. We did spend years doing the jewellery and it wasn’t all disastrous; there were good things about it too and we wanted to salvage them and treasure them. It seemed a waste not to take that bit of our lives and to somehow incorporate it into our new design venture  – to take the bad experience and use it in a creative way. Jed and Helena, thank you for telling us about it today.
Speaker 1: Well, we got there late unfortunately. The problem was that Dave couldn’t find a parking space anywhere. We drove around for ages. I don’t think we realised just how popular it was going to be. We nearly didn’t bother, you know. Last month’s was such a disappointment – there wasn’t much to see and not many people turned up. But this time it was the complete opposite . There were all kinds of food, a huge fish section, clothes, miscellaneous stalls  with goodness knows what. Apart from it being almost impossible to make progress past the stalls  we quite enjoyed it.
Speaker 2: Yes, Pete and I go quite regularly now. He wasn’t too keen to begin with but over the last few months we’ve both got completely hooked. However, we were a bit unlucky last weekend. We were expecting great things and we’d been looking forward to it for ages. This was going to be the big one. We set off early, got the gear ready the night before, but after a couple of hours the weather set in. Couldn’t see a thing. The visibility was down to about ten metres. There was no way we were going to reach the summit  so we just had to abandon it. Discovered we’d lost one of our ropes when we got back home, just to cap it all .
Speaker 3: I haven’t been for ages. It was a real treat for me. Of course, before I was married I used to go several times a year, but I don’t think I’ve been now since nineteen ninety-four. It’s not that my wife objects to it, it’s just, well, I don’t know. I suppose I feel a bit guilty going off at the weekend. But it’s good fun – I love seeing all the big names. Mind you, not a lot happened.Nothing to clap or cheer about , but it didn’t seem to matter. It was just being there, encouraging the players  and despairing when they got it all wrong.
Speaker 4: We felt it was a good opportunity to celebrate. Occasions like this don’t happen every day and everyone was in a good mood so we thought, ‘Why not’? The thing is, we wanted it to be different, something that we’d always remember, something to round off a perfect day. Jamie had heard about this interesting place by the harbour where you sat on cushions and you prepared your own dishes . It sounded different  so we set off for there. When we arrived, the manager had already heard about our success and even though he was busy, he still managed to find plenty of room for us all.
Speaker 5: I was on my own at the weekend and I suppose I was a bit restless. You know, I’ve been working hard recently. I needed to get out in the fresh air and so I just headed off into the country. It was great – a beautiful day. It reminded me of when my father used to take me fishing. Well, I fancied a quick dip and so, as no one was around, I just stripped off and plunged in . It was marvellous, but I got a bit over-ambitious. Before I knew it, I was more than a mile out. It took me a very long time to get back and when I reached the shore again I lay in the sun for ages to get my breath back .