Me & My Job - James Cordingley, assistant head gardener, Penshurst

James Cordingley, assistant head gardener, Penshurst  - image: HW
James Cordingley, assistant head gardener, Penshurst - image: HW

How did you get started in the industry?

I became interested in plants at an early age and had a small collection of fuchsias.

My fascination of plants grew and I studied a BSc (Hons) in horticulture at Writtle College in Essex. I worked on Herm Island for five years before taking the post of assistant head gardener at Penshurst Place & Gardens in Kent.

What does your typical day involve?

I start by distributing the day's work among the gardeners. The early morning normally entails recording the temperature and rainfall, watering the glasshouse and polytunnels, checking the orchid collection closely, picking fruit and salad for the house and playground checks. We then work on a specific section of the garden in small teams. Tasks can vary from weeding borders to fruit tree pruning.

What is the best aspect of your job?

I spend every day outside in the fresh air and among the plants. I am very lucky in having my hobby as a job and learning something new every day.

And the worst?

When the weather is particularly bad it sometimes holds us back from the job we need to get done. But there is always plenty to do in the glasshouse.

What projects are you working on?

I have joined the team at Penshurst at the final stage of its three-year restoration of herbaceous borders, newly designed by Chelsea Gold Medal winner George Carter. The project will be officially opened next year but has created a wonderful show in its first year.

How do you wind down after a hard day's work?

I walk or cycle home and have a lovely dinner.

What does the future hold?

I look forward to new experiences at Penshurst Place and continuing to build my knowledge and skills in the horticultural industry.


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