Encouraged by his grandfather, Richard Jackson developed an early interest in gardening and showed commercial promise when he borrowed money as a child to buy a second-hand greenhouse to grow bedding plants and vegetables to sell to his family and friends.
After graduating from the University of Southampton in the mid 1970s with a BSc in biology, Jackson worked briefly for a bank before returning to his main interest and joining Hilliers of Winchester in despatch and retail sales. He gained his passion for plants there, inspired by the firm's wonderful plantsmen and Roy Lancaster, who was curator of the Hillier Arboretum.
To broaden his knowledge and marketing skills, Jackson joined Fisons in the late 1970s and worked in product management for a couple of years. Product responsibilities included growbags.
His next job with Notcutts Garden Centres sparked his interest in garden retail. He used this experience in 1982 to go on to set up (with his friend Adam Caplin) Camden Garden Centre, an award-winning, self-financing employment and training project for long-term unemployed young people sponsored by the Fairbridge Society.
In the mid-to-late 1980s they set up a number of small but innovative garden centres in and around London - Alexandra Palace (1986), Fulham Palace, Morden Hall and Hounslow. At this time, Jackson also began his broadcasting career with Pete Murray on LBC and a monthly gardening phone-in on Michael Aspel's Capital Radio show. His first TV appearances were on Going Live with Philip Schofield, where he devised fun gardening ideas for children, including Gordon the Gopher's garden.
After the sale of the centres, his media career was firmly established in the 1990s. As a freelance writer and broadcaster he wrote for Radio Times and The Daily Telegraph, had his own page in Gardeners' World magazine for many years (and organised BBC Gardeners' World roadshows) and was the gardening correspondent for The News of the World.
He was the main presenter of Meridian TV's Grass Roots for 10 years and worked with many of the leading media gardeners such as Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don, Toby Buckland and Charlie Dimmock. He has written several gardening books, including his Container Gardening book that was among The Times' best-selling gardening books in 2013.
In 1994 Jackson was asked to be the gardening expert on QVC, now the world's leading multichannel retailer. He was instrumental in building the growth of gardening on QVC, launching both the sale of plants on the channel and in 2007 his own premium brand of plant fertiliser, Flowerpower, now expanded to a full range of Flowerpower products available exclusively through QVC.
He is proud of the fact that many QVC gardeners tried gardening for the first time and say they developed their interest by watching and building confidence through his programmes and on-air advice.
A passionate promoter and supporter of the gardening industry, he founded the Greenfingers charity in 1998 to bring people from across the industry together to focus fundraising and build gardens for children's hospices. He stood down as chairman after 15 years but is still very much involved in supporting the charity, with 49 gardens completed to date.
In 2006 he also set up the now annual Garden Press event with Guy Burtenshaw to exhibit, network and promote product/manufacturer interests to the gardening media.
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