Me & My Job - John Foley, owner, Holden Clough Nursery

John Foley, owner, Holden Clough Nursery - image: HW
John Foley, owner, Holden Clough Nursery - image: HW

How did you get started in the industry? The nursery was a family business but very overgrown, so we have given it a makeover. Having had so many years pottering around, experience is my real strength as I believe you cannot beat getting out there and getting your hands dirty.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Don't judge horticulture by the stereotypical image. It might not be cool, but if you persist with it, it is very enjoyable, satisfying and you can make money out of it, despite what some may think. You just get wet and cold now and then.

What does your typical day involve? Overseeing the running of our plant nursery with my girlfriend, Kate, and doing landscaping work for our local customers.

What is the best aspect of your job? Meeting customers and advising them on planting ideas, as well as being at the summer flower shows.

And the worst? The winter, when it quietens. But with spring around the corner, that never lasts long.

What is your greatest achievement at work? Winning the BBC's Young Gardener of the Year. Having no formal qualifications in horticulture, this is the nearest thing to it. It came straight after we won our first RHS Gold Medal at Tatton Park in 2011, so it was a bumper year.

How do you wind down after a hard day? We like to go to the pub for a meal and forget about work. It is important to get space away from the nursery, it helps keep a fresh perspective on what you have to do the next day.

What does the future hold? I hope to help encourage younger people into the industry by setting an example. We are building a tea room and lecture room at the nursery to attract new customers. We also hope to exhibit at Chelsea in the coming years, but not until we are ready and can really make an impact.


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