Me & My Job - Susan Russell, head gardener, Culzean Castle, Ayrshire

Susan Russell, head gardener, Culzean Castle, Ayrshire - image: HW
Susan Russell, head gardener, Culzean Castle, Ayrshire - image: HW

- How did you get started?

I was born and brought up in Glasgow. Luckily, we overlooked the Botanics and my mother was very keen on gardening. I decided I would rather work outside than inside and I got a seasonal post at the Botanics.

- What advice would you give others starting out?

Give horticulture a chance. It's not for everyone, but it you don't mind getting a bit cold and wet sometimes and you don't want to be confined by four walls and a computer, then give horticulture a go. It's very satisfying to watch things grow.

- What does your typical day involve?

I see the staff first thing in the morning and I usually decide the day before what's happening. Quite often it's weather-related as well and the guys get out and do their work. I go and open the gates in the garden and check round various things and then I have to go to the office and check emails and orders. It can take most of the morning and after lunch I try and get round to the guys and see how they are getting on. It's never the same day twice so you don't really know what's going to happen.

- What is the best part of your job?

I'm a propagator at heart so I love sowing seeds, taking cuttings and grafting. I love seeing plants being produced and seeing seeds germinate.

- And the worst?

Paperwork.

- What piece of kit could you not do without?

Probably my knife.

- What is your greatest achievement?

Being 25 years in the one job, but also the general increase in interest at Culzean and the gardens. The gardens are more at the centre of the property than they used to be.

- How do you wind down after a hard day?

I take my dog for a walk round the grounds. There's a beach I go down to and on a stormy day the stresses disappear.

- What does the future hold?

I want to keep growing plans and improve the environment.


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