Me & My Job - Alec White, managing director, Dingley Dell

Alec White, managing director, Dingley Dell - image: Dingley Dell
Alec White, managing director, Dingley Dell - image: Dingley Dell

How did you get started in the industry?

I've been interested in horticulture for years. I originally trained as a lawyer but we bought the nursery six years ago and I wanted to get out of the rat race and work outside.

How did the site develop?

We've built up from scratch but chose the roughest time to do it. We have a loyal following and the Dingley Dell club has almost 2,000 members now. My mum runs the coffee shop and we do workshops and talks. My dad does the sheds and landscaping so it's all coming together and we've been making a profit last year and this year. We just have 12-15 staff and we're a friendly, happy team.

How was it exhibiting at Hampton Court?

We won second place in the best plant village exhibit. I designed the garden using a drought-tolerant natural, coastal theme. Plants included those grown on the nursery from our wild flower collection. I'd been trying to get in for years but it was incredibly difficult. We've been exhibiting at the HTA National Plant Show for two years and got talking to some people there and they helped us get a place after someone dropped out. It was a fabulous week and we had lots of great feedback.

What does the future hold?

We're going to apply for Hampton Court again next year with a bit more of a plan and hopefully get into Chelsea one day. We're increasing our range and doing more wholesale to the industry. We do a little but supplying locally, mostly alpines and herbs. We grow lots of interesting and unusual plants that the big boys are interested in doing commercially. Growing a bit of everything is the only way to keep your head above water in the current climate. Most of our customers like some herbs, alpines and perennials so they've always got something.


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