An interview with Tolly McRae

Tolly McRae

This year, our stand at RHS Chelsea is going to be packed with some stunning extras. British company Tolly McRae will be providing a collection of luxury picnic blankets and throws. We caught up with the owners, Helen and Danielle, to find out a little more about their business.

How did the ‘Tolly McRae’ story begin?  

"Like so many country businesses today, Tolly McRae has ‘kitchen table’ roots. We both have a huge passion for interiors and really, we formed our friendship on this. Over the years we had many a conversation about what our dream interiors business would be, then one day we just said, “let’s do it!” and Tolly McRae was born. What followed was probably 18 months of research and planning to get us from there to launch, but it’s been about making our dreams become a reality and building a business on something we are truly passionate about."

Our personal favourite is the ‘Old Rose’ picnic rug. Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

"Thank you, that’s a very popular piece – named after a climbing rose I have in my garden. We are surrounded by the Cotswolds, that’s where we draw a great deal of inspiration. From beautiful cottage gardens with fabulous Cotswold stone farmhouses, to cool country 'go-to' places like Daylesford Organic Farm in Kingham; it’s not just the landscape and places, it’s the whole modern-country lifestyle. Think a brisk walk across the fields then an afternoon lazing in the garden, followed by an evening curled up in front of a log burner. That’s the essence of our “lazy days, cozy nights” philosophy."

What is your best selling design?

"Our picnic rugs are without doubt our biggest selling range. The Lemon Zest is a massive hit and I think that’s because the grey and yellow work together so well. It’s one of those on trend combos that just doesn’t want to go away. Classic Navy is eternally popular and of the softer shades, Old Rose and Milk Thistle are both top sellers too."

Have you been to RHS Chelsea before?

"This year is my first visit (Helen) and I am super excited about going especially as I have plans to completely redesign my garden this year – I am sure that Chelsea will provide lots of interesting inspiration."

Are either of you keen gardeners?

"Yes, I am a very keen gardener (Danielle). It’s my escape and I find it totally relaxing; a tonic. I love the physicality of it, all that digging and heaving stuff about and can lose myself in pruning and snipping for hours. I have a bit of a mish-mash cottage garden and love seeing all the different flowers bloom over the summer months, but equally get so excited when my trees start producing come late summer."

What have you got going on in your greenhouse at the moment?

"We have just dug over a long abandoned veg patch this year and brought it back to life so the greenhouse is all about produce this year. At the moment we have some tomatoes taking off, some chilli plants, potato sacks and some trugs of mixed herbs - and the kids have a couple of sunflowers just starting to poke through!"

Do you have any growing tips for our community?

"Feed, feed, feed and water every evening, even if it has been raining. Especially pots and baskets."

See their beautiful blankets on our Chelsea stand at MA10 or visit their website for more information. To keep up to date with all the latest Chelsea news, follow us on Twitter, @Alitex.

Tags: Tolly McRae, blankets, luxury, picnic rugs, RHS Chelsea Flower Show.