Me & My Job - Sarah Dean, manager of Deans' Garden Centre, Essex

- How did you get started?

Deans' Garden Centre is a family business so I've always been part of it somehow. It was started by my father and uncle in 1961, so from a young age I would help out by picking tomatoes and chrysanthemums. As I got older, I became more involved throughout the busy periods and would make up hanging baskets during my Easter breaks from University. When my uncle retired in 2004 and my father decided to work fewer hours, the opportunity came for me to manage the business.

- What takes up most of your time?

I spend much of my time with customers whether it's taking orders, responding to enquiries, talking about the plants or offering guidance on bulk quantities of mulch and bark for larger projects. Caring for the plants also takes up a lot of time as we grow as much as we can on site.

- What does your typical day involve?

Being the owner of a small business I am involved in everything from the sowing of seeds to the sales of plants, as well as the manual tasks of loading vehicles with bark and topsoil and taking deliveries. I love the variety.

- What piece of kit can't you do without?

Definitely our potting machine, it saves us hours and hours of work. It fills pots and bags with compost that are carried through on a belt. Our loading shovel/forklift is a must have for our bulk orders and deliveries and, of course, a lorry to deliver our products.

- What is the best part of your job?

The excitement that spring brings, when we are preparing the garden centre for our busiest season. I like helping our customers out when they need it. That makes my job interesting and enjoyable.

- And the worst?

We close for three weeks over Christmas and returning to work afterwards, when it's cold, wet, and there aren't many customers, isn't an easy task.

- How do you relax after a hard day?

I love to potter about in the garden, pick vegetables that I've grown and use them in my cooking.

- What does the future hold?

Keeping things local, within Suffolk and Essex, is important to the business. I don't want to expand massively, but we are hoping to grow and sell more unusual fruits, vegetables, plants and trees. We're always looking to become more environmentally friendly, and have new projects for that.

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