Me & My Job - Dawn Aldridge, senior gardener, Glyndebourne

Dawn Aldridge, senior gardener, Glyndebourne - image: Glyndebourne
Dawn Aldridge, senior gardener, Glyndebourne - image: Glyndebourne

How did you get started in the industry? I was working as an administrator in the wigs department at Glyndebourne and thought how nice it would be to work outside rather than in the office. I did the RHS level two course at Plumpton College, which was all theory so I did some voluntary work experience in the garden at Glyndebourne. Then a vacancy came up in the gardening department and I changed my career.

What advice would you give to career changers? Do some voluntary work and it helps to have a course behind you these days. The RHS course is very good, though a bit expensive. It's good to know botany, for instance.

What does your typical day involve? I'm here at 7am and then water in the glasshouse. Depending on the weather, I go to the borders and do anything that needs to be done, including cutting back, weeding and planting out. I've grown from seed 103 different species and cultivars, this year producing around 2,500 plants, plus another 500 from cuttings. This year we have been given our own sections to look after. I've been given the Bourne. It's a huge jungley area, like a temperate forest. I've tried to give it a more creative feel. The head gardener is working out projects for next year.

What is the best aspect of your job? The five minutes when you can stand, stare and look at the plants, watch the birds and the bees and enjoy the garden.

And the worst? We start at 7am - that's the bad bit. I have to get up at 5.30am to get here.

How many gardeners work at Glyndebourne? We have four full-time gardeners as well as an apprentice and a gardens adviser.

What are your plans for the future? I have a creative background and would like to work out a way of linking that with gardening.

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