Me & My Job - Alan North, head gardener, Audley End

Q: How did you get started in the industry? A: I always wanted to have a career that allowed me to be outdoors and practical, but also something real and purposeful. When I spotted a trainee gardener position at Madingley Hall I jumped at the chance and never looked back

Alan North, head gardener, Audley End
Alan North, head gardener, Audley End
I remember my first day and instantly feeling certain this would be my future. It was an exciting and special feeling.

What advice would you give to others starting out?

Ask lots of questions, read lots, make notes and most importantly take time to observe the garden. Watching the behaviour of plants and wildlife is perhaps the most insightful and enjoyable way to learn.

What does your typical day involve?

A cup of tea and a catch-up with my senior gardeners before the rest of the team arrives. I aim to join the team in the garden perhaps three days of the week, allowing me a couple of days to catch up on emails and planning. The office work is important but I love to be in the garden.

What is the best aspect of your job?

Working with talented and like-minded people, learning new skills and knowledge in beautiful surroundings and seasons.

And the worst?

Easy. The less available time that I have to be in the garden and working alongside the team.

How do you wind down after a hard day at work?

My two young children keep me entertained. We love to go for walks and enjoy our surroundings on the estate. I also play golf and tennis.

What does the future hold?

We have some really exciting upcoming projects and events. We are beginning to prepare for the nationwide project and celebration of Capability Brown's 300th anniversary, who was influential at Audley End. It is fascinating being involved within an historic landscape and I would like to further my studies in garden history.

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