Me & My Job - Peter White, orchid expert, Growth Technology

How did you get started in the industry? Thirty-five years ago, a friend gave me a plant, which on flowering I discovered was an orchid. It was beautiful so I read up on the plants and decided to try growing them. I left the job I was in 15 years ago to grow orchids full time. I also organise and run orchid days on behalf of Growth Technology at garden centres to inform people how to look after the exotic plants and give advice.

What does your typical day involve? I am usually in the greenhouse early, watering the plants and damping down the floors. Then I sort out the orders for collection. Orchid days always have an early start, packing the car and checking I've got all the compost and fertilisers I need. After setting up my stand, I am ready to host clinics, repotting sessions and talks. At the end of the day, I'll take down the stand.

What takes up most of your time? On an orchid day, it's probably travelling. Otherwise, general nursery tasks and plant care are both priorities.

What is the best aspect of your job? I enjoy talking to people and advising them. It's really rewarding when someone says your talk has been enjoyable and informative.

And the worst? The early starts and long days, and travelling in the winter.

What is your greatest achievement at work? Being invited onto the RHS orchid committee. My first gold medal at BBC Gardeners' World Live in 2008 comes a very close second.

How do you wind down after a hard day at work? Sitting down to a nice meal and then reading a newspaper or book.

What does the future hold? I think orchids will continue to gain in popularity with more and more varieties coming onto the market. The future for me is introducing the younger generation to orchids and ensuring that people continue to grow and care for their orchids.


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