Me & My Job: Faye Steer, deputy head gardener, Madingley Hall

Faye Steer, deputy head gardener, Madingley Hall - image: HW
Faye Steer, deputy head gardener, Madingley Hall - image: HW

How did you get started? My father is a trained horticulturist and he encouraged me from an early age.

I had my first allotment at 14 - unusual for a teenage girl. I thought it could be a worthwhile and enjoyable career so I studied horticulture at Pershore College.

What does your typical day involve? We get work planned for the day with the team, then head out into the garden (emails depending), see to the glasshouse and then it could be a morning weeding and planting, an afternoon of mowing, then perhaps leading a garden tour, especially now when the garden really looks its best.

What has been the hardest job you have done in horticulture? Learning to cope with the extremes of weather and planning accordingly. I don't mind the heat, cold, wind or rain any more - I know I've just got to get out there and carry on.

Have you continued learning? I keep up to date with news through magazines and journals. I also take regular training, be it in machinery skills or in plant classification. I'm in the Professional Gardeners' Guild and the Institute of Horticulture, both of which are great to meet people and to learn from others in the industry.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Find out what interests you but don't just stick to that. There are so many skills and knowledge involved in horticulture and it can lead to many different paths. Oh, and always keep a dry pair of gloves.

How do you wind down after a hard day? I like to enjoy a good meal with friends, many of whom are gardeners too. I also like to walk in the countryside or on the coast. I can't bear to be stuck inside even at weekends.

What does the future hold? Hopefully I will become a head gardener one day, perhaps in a botanic garden. I like working with collections and engaging with people, inspiring them to appreciate the importance of plants.


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