- How did you get started?
I started with a business start-up grant of £60 per fortnight from Mrs Thatcher in 1986. You had to have been unemployed for six months and have £1,000 in savings to qualify.
- What does your typical day involve?
I go to the office around 8am to check that the staff have their tasks for the day, check the emails, answer customer enquiries, amalgamate orders and make sure that we have enough stock to meet orders. At the moment, we're dealing with an order for more than 40,000 native bluebells. The nursery is being extended and when it's finished our "growing-on" area will have doubled.
- Do you get out of the office as much as you would like?
No, not nearly as much as I used to. In the early days I used to do far more plant surveys and seed collecting. Now we've built up our stock to the extent that we grow all our own seeds here in the nursery.
- What is the best part of your job?
My favourite task is germinating new plant species. I love it.
- And the worst?
I hate chasing up debts, but I expect everybody's going through that at the moment.
- What is your greatest achievement?
Looking back, my finest achievement has been moving from an 8ft by 4ft greenhouse in my back garden, which is where I started, to six acres of nursery. During the first year in business I sold 98 plants, but last year we sold more than three-quarters-of-a-million.
- How do you wind down after a hard day?
A good thriller or taking my granddaughters to Center Parcs.
- What does the future hold?
We're looking forward to a good Easter and later supplying plants for many of the designers who will be creating gardens for Chelsea. After that, we'll be meeting orders for the Olympic Park.