How did you get started in the industry? I became a gardener equipped with some basic equipment — lawnmower, spade, edging moon, secateurs and a white Suzuki Vitara rag top. I got my first private jobs from the advert board at college. After several years establishing myself as a gardener, the Geoghegan Group employed me to develop the Surrey Gardens belonging to their nursing, residential and rehabilitation homes.
What advice would you give to others starting out? Work hard and conscientiously, and most importantly listen to the owner.
What does your typical day involve? It starts with an analysis of the weather. I find that a routine job can help concentrate the mind and body. A quick tidy where appropriate and attention to the little regular jobs. Deal with necessary seasonal jobs — watering, feeding, pruning, deadheading, hedging, weeding. I try to focus on small areas at one time. I will take my time, stand back and look. I like to have several projects, from training a rose, creating a vegetable patch to building a polytunnel.
What is the best aspect of your job? I like to converse with the residents and have found that people appreciate someone who listens to them and if they ask me to do something I like to do it as soon as possible. I enjoy having three very different gardens to work on, all with different characters.
And the worst? Fencing — and when the deer breach my defences.
What has been your biggest achievement at work? To revitalise the sense of spirit in the gardens by utilising existing plants. Small budget, large impact.
What does the future hold for the industry? It has a great future as it is the primary link to nature for many.
How do you unwind after a hard day at work? With an apple in the car and a cup of tea on reaching home. I find music helpful.