He left Architectural Plants to embark on a record-breaking row of 3,160 nautical miles from Australia to Mauritius. He and his rowing partner became the first and fastest paired team to row unassisted from land to land across the Indian Ocean in 102 days, 13 hours and 40 minutes.
Watts co-founded the charity Streetscape, a social enterprise that provides apprenticeships in landscape gardening to 18- to 25-year-olds who are long-term unemployed.
Since returning to Architectural Plants in October 2015, Watts has doubled production of home-propagated plants and has given work experience placements and jobs to new graduates and students from local colleges. This summer, Architectural Plants sponsored young garden designer Will Williams through his first show garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
Watts said after 26 years of the company he does not want to change direction too much from the supply of tropical, spiky and shaped plants. But he said homegrown production could rise to as much as 60 per cent, given that the nursery has eight polytunnels and has planning permission for 12 more. He explained that the plan is to slowly expand homegrown using the nursery's propagation facilities and lab.
"Changing currency because of Brexit is a big reason for more expensive imports," he added. Watts said the grower has a resident pest and disease expert and there will be a pest and disease course available for trade customers in 2017. He pointed out that the grower suppliers many large estate gardens as well as garden shows and he hopes to increase these.