I’ve been working at the Yeo Valley Organic Garden since mid-October 2017 and I’m so happy to be working in this beautiful garden. I love getting my hands dirty by planting and weeding, it’s definitely my favourite part of my job. At the moment, we’re doing lots and lots of planting, mostly last year’s perennials and working a lot on the gravel garden.
It’s been a good winter and I’m looking forward to my first summer here, seeing how the garden changes and meeting the visitors. I’m still learning the garden; it’s different from the gardens I’ve looked after before, although I’ve worked in organic horticulture for 35 years, it’s always tough to go to a new place. I’ve lived and worked all over, from Birmingham to Coventry to Kent and then I was Head Gardener at Ryton Gardens for many years.
We use photos of the garden to see how far ahead or behind last year we are, they’re such a great visual tool. The weather we’ve been having has certainly had a lasting effect on the garden, this year we are about 3 weeks behind where we were last year, in terms of growth and flowering and things like that. Everything will easily catch up on itself before too long so we aren’t too worried, although it is a bit of a shame as it means the spring flowers will be out for a shorter time. The snow was a bit of a surprise, especially being so deep here in the usually mild South West!
I’m a keen naturalist with a particular interest in the wasp! They’re not a popular insect with many people but I find them so interesting, the different species all exhibit different behaviour and it’s great to be able to observe them whilst I’m out in the garden. Having a good knowledge of the eco system really helps with organic gardening – pest control could just be that you need to change the way you’re pruning as the sap might be attracting the pest or planting other plants nearby that attract a predator of your pest.
When I’m not at work I like to keep busy, I’m not very good at sitting and relaxing! I love cooking with food I’ve grown and baking with fresh fruit. I like carpentry and furniture restoration, walking and music, particularly reggae and dancing the night away! Travelling is another love of mine; Fiji is a particular favourite place, it’s beautiful and I enjoyed meeting the locals and the peacefulness there.
I feel like I’ve found my dream job here, it’s a great working environment and I’ve got a brilliant team. I really like working with Sarah Mead – she’s so inspirational and she has such a good vision for the garden so I’m excited to see how it develops over the coming years.
The organic garden opens for the 2018 season on the 19th of April and is open every Thursday and Friday until the end of September.