How did you get started in the industry?
I was hit by the gardening bug when I was 13 years old and ruining the garden with a football. I trod on a blue gentian and looked at a book to see what it was and saw this blue trumpet flower with mountains behind. My mum was a keen rock gardener and I got into growing plants and propagating fuchsias and geraniums. I went on to do a degree in landscape management at Reading University. I had an idea of joining the World Wildlife Fund to save the rainforest but found myself working on a restoration project in Hampshire. I started designing a woodland garden and then became ICI head gardener. I've also been a garden designer and writer.
- What advice would you give to people starting out?
Keep an open mind and try as many different things as possible. There are a whole lot of little careers in horticulture, from production to marketing and design. It can take a long time to find what you are best at.
- What does your typical day involve?
I help about 50 National Trust gardens across the eastern half of the country.
- What takes up most of your time?
Advising properties. A lot of head gardeners want to develop parts of their garden. The National Trust has a target to get a million more members over the next seven or eight years so we keep on with new features and designing new areas. There are a lot of challenges with 200 gardens and 450 gardeners. That's a hell of a knowledge base to try and unlock.
- What is the best part of your job?
It's a privilege to make changes in some of these gardens - some of the most impressive in the world.
- And the worst?
Travel. I seem to cover half the country.
- What does the future hold?
More books, hopefully, and I've done a screen test for the BBC. But when I looked at the specification for the job I have now, I couldn't believe how good it was.