Me & My Job: Jim Handley, sole gardener, Stonor Park

Jim Handley, sole gardener, Stonor Park. Image: HW
Jim Handley, sole gardener, Stonor Park. Image: HW

How did you get started in horticulture? I always had an interest in the environment. It felt natural for me to make horticulture my career and I took a job at FP Matthews, a large tree nursery in Worcestershire. Following my experience there and subsequent nursery jobs, I decided to enrol at Warwickshire College for a National Diploma. From there I went on to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on the three-year Diploma in Horticulture.

What does your typical day involve? I get in at 8am and check the glasshouses for watering before heading into the garden. My tasks include weeding, pruning and general tidying. The owner and I usually have a walk around the garden once a week, discussing ideas and jobs to be done.

What takes up most of your time? The priority at the moment is weeding because I am getting the garden ready for opening to the public.

Do you get out of the office enough? Definitely. I spend a few minutes a day making job lists and plans but I usually have too much to do in the garden to sit down for long.

What is the best part of your job? Walking across the estate each morning to work is a great start to the day. Having the freedom to make day-to-day decisions in the garden, along with that responsibility, is good for me.

And the worst? Nothing to do with the job itself, just the lack of time to get everything I want done.

What piece of kit can't you do without? My Felcos and hand fork.

How do you wind down after a day's work? A cold beer with my wife and kids is the usual way.

What does the future hold? Having been at Stonor for a short time, my aim is to work hard, take the garden to the next level and increase awareness of it. I've also written some freelance articles and would like to do more.

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