Me & My job: Pamela Smith, consultant, Botanical Connections

- How did you break into the industry?

I knew I wanted to go into a land-based industry from about the age of 15. Forestry was my first choice but I eventually went to Askham Bryan college in York to do an NDH in amenity horticulture. It was the right choice.

- Who or what was your inspiration?

I was brought up by the coast in Anglesey and enjoyed discovering the coastal habitats. But in terms of horticulture it was my grandfather, who was a very keen gardener and took me to many gardens in North Wales. However, my school's careers teacher tried to put me off it.

- What's the most difficult job you have ever done?

Physically, it was probably when I was harvesting rosehips and extracting seed during my pre-college year. It was a very uncomfortable job, very itchy - particularly when you have an hour-and-a-half bus ride and half-hour walk at the end of it to get home.

- What is your advice to novices?

I would say that it is a great career and gives you a huge range of skills. I would recommend getting as much practical experience as possible. There are many on-site training opportunities such as the Historic & Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme, but competition is high, and I think in some ways it is harder to get into the industry now. When I graduated from Askham Bryan college, most of us had a job to go to already - usually a horticultural post in local authorities.

- How do you relax?

Time with my family. I love public parks and try to visit one wherever I am. I also love BBC Radio 4 comedies and The Archers.

- What does the future hold for you?

I am enjoying being freelance and am promoting the role of horticulture in urban regeneration and city-sustain-ability projects. I am also going into partnership with a food researcher and writer to encourage plant use and food awareness in cities. To keep in touch with parks I have just completed my Green Flag Award judge training and I am also vice chair of Plant Network - the organisation representing plant collection holders in the UK and Ireland.


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