- What does your typical day involve?
It depends on the season. I ensure the watering is done, do pest and disease checks, and make sure the area is tidy and clean for customers by deadheading and weeding. I have to organise my staff; the numbers of the workforce change throughout the year. In December and January we put the trials list together and decide whether they should be open or closed trials. Then we decide sowing and sticking dates, whether we will put them in pots or trays, how to record the trial, what cultural requirements there are and how we are going to disseminate the results. I also look after the gardens and displays put together for our open days; they are our "living catalogue".
- Do you get out of the office enough?
Yes, I spend nine months out of the office and three months in. At the most, I spend about an hour or two at the computer each day. As well as the trials, I am responsible for the picture library and during autumn and winter get the images ready for the catalogue.
- What's the best part of the job?
It's what I've always wanted to do, work outside with plants. I have some great colleagues. I work in the horticulture industry - what more could you want?
- What's the worst part of the job?
Probably the (seasonal) long hours. But you have to get the job done. And also wet feet.
- What takes up most of your time?
Potting in the spring and watering in the summer. I go into the office in the autumn and do sales and admin, and then planning in the winter.
What piece of kit can't you do without?
My catalogue. When trials are being carried out I need to compare plants in the catalogue with trial plants so I need to know the correct names.
How do you wind down after a day's work?
When does that end? No, seriously, I have a glass of wine, watch a film and chat to my other half.
What does the future hold?
Better and more trials and better displays and more work in the garden. We are planning a biennial spring event, which could be violas or pansies, and we hope to do autumn crops, such as Cyclamen, as well.