He celebrates 60 years in horticulture in 2024 and said he never regretted leaving school at 15 to join the local parks department.
A "gathering of like minds" should not be used to "harangue politicians". Delegates were all there because they believe in the "common cause of horticulture".
He said ending up on TV screens "is a dubious accolade nowadays. Particularly this week one is really rather nervous of appearing on daytime television"!
Being the "face of gardening" is a relatively unthreatening thing to do. He said he "believes passionately in the power of horticulture and gardening for humanity".
He said: "It is lovely to hear we're going to have 400 million new trees, as long as they're planted at the right time of year."
The groundswell of leaders realise that "the big three things that have always been in national and local government - health, law and order and education - are all impinged upon by plants, flowers, gardening and horticulture".
He said we are welcoming bunch, a passionate bunch and "we can be the saviours of the nation".
Actor and Greenfingers' ambassador Jim Carter told the audience that gardening should be on the national curriculum, echoing a recent call from HortWeek. This would get children off their screens. He said we should not listen to the insiduous advice of influencers.