Ed Skinner, head gardener, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

- What does your typical day involve?

Every day is different. We're unlike a lot of gardens in that there are always events on. I can be asked to coordinate an event, which could be anything from theatre to setting up a sculpture exhibit. I have a weekly meeting with area supervisors when we agree the week's tasks. Although I pop along and see how they are doing, they are all experienced and have a lot of autonomy. Every morning there is a staff meeting, which also includes our seven students. In total, I manage 16 people and 30 volunteers.

- What takes up most of your time?

Answering emails. I get a lot of job applications from students and people wanting work experience.

- Do you get out of the office enough?

I do get out and get my hands dirty. It's important to be seen as the team leader - otherwise I'm like a god on Mount Olympus calling down with a voice of thunder.

- What is the best part of your job?

Meeting people. Also doing tours when I can step back and see what we've achieved as a team. I am proud of the students. We have had students accepted recently to training programmes at the botanic gardens at Cambridge, Oxford and Kew.

- And the worst?

When we've gone to great lengths to develop a display in the garden and it gets damaged.

- How do you wind down after a day's work?

I dance several times a week, anything from ballroom and Latin American to jive. It's great to do something different.

- What does the future hold?

We're aiming to become the sustainable centre of the Midlands. We would also like to build an alpine house, get the council to lay on shuttle buses from the station, create a Himalayan valley garden and get a gardener trained in special needs, so they can work with groups of volunteers.


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