How did you get started in the industry? I am self-employed, work on various private gardens and run gardening activities at a Royal British Legion care home and a home for deaf and/or disabled people. In 1999 I decided to set up my own gardening business because I was disillusioned with my job as a social worker. I volunteered at Ryton Organic Gardens initially but I soon became very busy with other work including working at Ryton, which was then HDRA.
What advice would you give to others starting out? Learn as much as you can about horticulture and follow your instinct when deciding your career path within the industry. Also remember that you never stop learning about plants, soil and nature.
What is the best aspect of your job? Progressing from a jobbing gardener to a trainer, adviser and now using my experience as a social worker to work with the elderly and disabled to enable them to enjoy gardening and the benefits it can offer. Being self-employed gives me a great deal of autonomy when organising my workload. Also being aware of a person’s capability and tailoring a gardening activity around their needs and just what they are capable of doing.
And the worst? Not many, I have to say. I feel very lucky in that respect.
What are your business plans for the future? To continue to be good at what I do and enable others to enjoy their garden.
How do you unwind after a hard day at work? Get away as often as possible with my partner in our caravan. I like going to the theatre to see a really good production. I am also trying to complete knitting and crochet projects, with little success.