How did you get started in the industry? I launched my specialist retail/mail-order plant company in 1990 so it's 25 years old this year. As a field study teacher, I had worked for the Inner London Education Authority. I set up Cotswold Garden Flowers (CGF) trading in rare and specialist plants as well as the best run-of-the-mill ones. I bought a one-acre field in Badsey, Worcestershire, for growing plants in the ground. I saw steady growth in the early years and focused on providing clients with new and unusual perennials. In addition, the nursery reintroduced established varieties to the market. Phlox and gladiolus had lapsed in the mind of the public.
What does your typical day involve? My work includes plant breeding, writing, lecturing as well as running the nursery and my wholesale business, JustMust Perennials. Each month, CGF holds a talk and demonstration at the Badsey retail nursery.
How did you expand the company? A surge in interest in herbaceous perennials during the 1990s greatly enhanced the retail nursery's growth pattern. Landscapers, small independent nurseries and nurserymen became the core visitor/buyer for this range of material.
How do you promote the business to customers? The annual catalogue is produced in a convenient pocket size, which customers prefer. The 2015 edition includes full details of plant availability and a consumer plant diary of events where you will be able to see CGF in 2015. The mail-order facility has existed in some form since the nursery started.
What are your plans for the future? We want to keep the business's unique character going into the next couple of generations by sequential planning. As to a celebration, well, the odd party and an exhibit celebrating 25 years at the Malvern shows.