Colin Porter is a professional gardener and landscape designer. His current roles and responsibilities include working part time as garden superintendent at North Devon Hospice in Deer Park, Barnstaple, where he was originally taken on to redevelop the centre's substantial gardens.
Porter describes his work at the garden as particularly close to his heart, having developed a strong passion for community-based projects after 30 years working in the horticulture industry.
Porter's career in horticulture began in his mid-20s at the former Sheffield Corporation, from where he went on to college and then on to study at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the early 1980s. He subsequently obtained a postgraduate degree in landscape design.
The first stage of the project to redevelop the 2.5ha gardens at North Devon Hospice was to improve access to the grounds, which are sloping, sheltered and south-facing. A series of paths lead from the hospice to the lower part of the site marked by two ponds. Porter was as sensitive to the deep human needs of the users as to the design potential of such a breathtaking site.
The sloping ground, for example, prevented easy access, so a curving path layout offered both dynamic visual appeal and allowed for easier movement of wheelchairs. Next came a winter and autumn border to offer residents year-round colourful views from their windows.
Porter created a series of spaces to offer patients quiet and contemplation. These included a chapel-like area known as the Retreat and a complementary garden characterised by Devon slate and running water.
Last year, an ornamental kitchen garden was planted next to a terrace cafe to offer residents not only fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs but horticultural therapy.
By leading each phase of the project and securing vital support from community groups or businesses, Porter has proved a crucial ally to the hospice trustees in both creative and cultural terms.
Horticulture Week is the UK's leading business weekly for the professional horticulture community, providing news, analysis, opinion, technical reports, product and market data. Published since 1840, it includes coverage targeted specifically at professionals working in production horticulture, historic and botanic gardens, parks, garden retail, contracting, landscape design, arboriculture and turf.