Seabrook on ... bringing joy through horticulture

One person can have a major influence on an establishment, touching the lives of many people. This fact was brought home to me three times last week - first at a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of John Turner OBE at All Saints Church, Writtle.

John started work at Writtle College as lecturer and warden, rising to vice-principal in 1976, and served the college well for 43 years - a true English gentleman whose smile radiated out to all who met him.

Colleague John Roberts in his tribute suggested the measure of a successful person was the number of people at his funeral - here they were quite rightly standing in the aisles for John. He was quite simply a lovely man.

Second, while judging the Briggs & Stratton-sponsored Britain's Best Parks competition, there were numerous examples of successful men and women who had set up and bequeathed public parks. Four in Glasgow were outstanding, along with Sunderland, Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds, Cardiff, London, Weston-super-Mare and Torquay.

It wasn't just the originators: their followers have fought for finance and support to bring colour and attractive open spaces to cities and towns. There is still plenty to do here, as I noted one 200ha park had just one full-time and two part-time members of staff to maintain the park and its ornamental gardens.

Third, there was the news of Goldsmith Seeds' sale to Syngenta for $74m (£47.9m). Glen Goldsmith, now retired in Hawaii, was the man who built this immensely successful company, the largest flower-seed producer in the world. Now in the hands of his sons, it employs 1,500 staff over three continents and has given us numerous flower novelties, from the Aquilegia Origami Series to the Gazania Kiss Series, the Pelargonium Maverick Series, the Impatiens Accent Series and the Viola pansy.

Glen and his wife Jane set up Goldsmith in California in 1962, and since then their flowers have brought pleasure to millions. We need to remember that whether growing good food, flowers or turf, we bring joy to others.

- Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster


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