- How did you get started?
I started at Lee Valley Regional Park as assistant gardener in 1979 at 19 years of age. I had been a keen gardener since I was 12 years old. Three years later I was offered training at Capel Manor Horticultural College. In 1986 I studied at Oaklands College in St Albans, where I gained a National Certificate in Amenity Horticulture with credit.
- What advice would you give to others starting out?
Enrol at your nearest horticultural college as soon as you can. I would also advise that gardening is a job people do for love rather than money.
- What does your typical day involve?
This is a difficult question because every day is different. My day could involve clearing a neglected area of the garden, helping our Historic Botanic Garden Bursaries Scheme apprentice through her weekly plant identification or working on the restoration project.
- What takes up most of your time?
Managing my emails ... Not really, but sometimes it feels like it.
- What is the best part of your job?
Planting in the garden and exploiting its microclimates to grow something rare successfully.
- And the worst?
The monthly health and safety checks, though they are vital to ensure visitors and staff are safe in the gardens.
- What is your greatest achievement?
My appointment as senior gardener of the ornamental plant collection. It took me 30 years to get here.
- How do you wind down after a hard day?
With a glass of wine and a good film - more often than not with Vincent Price in it.
- What does the future hold?
With the Heritage Lottery Fund restoration project completed in spring 2011, we will have a restored and fully functional Victorian kitchen garden. I hope to still be senior gardener here in my retirement year (2026), when I plan to tell my employer, Lee Valley Regional Park: "I've had such a good time here, I'd gladly have done it all for nothing."