Celebrity, Uncategorized

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Tom Hart Dyke

My Gardening Journey!

By Tom Hart Dyke 

Curator  of The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, Kent

Portrait of Tom Hart Dyke, Award Winning Plant Expert. Writer, Author, Television Presenter, Adventurer. Commissioned by: Mary Dawson http://www.dfmanagement.tv[/caption]

My passion for horticulture started from a young age, my influential and much loved Granny ‘Crac’ gave me a packet of carrot seeds at the age of three and from then on, I was captivated by plants!  Orchids were my first love and fascination; I would often persuade Granny after school to help me scour the long grass of our local golf course in search of wild orchid beauties. After I graduated from Sparsholt College my sense of adventure grew stronger and I followed my plant hunters dream of travelling the world to seek out rare orchids and plants.

Phragmipedum Orchid in the Orchid House at Lullingstone Castle. Photo Credit: Alan Graham

I’ve had some extremely exciting horticulturally endowed trips over my green filled lifetime. It’s been an absolute privilege following in the deep rooted traditions of plant hunters of past and present, travelling to the far flung corners of our green globe, risking life and limb in pursuit of some of the world’s most awe-inspiring plants. My travelling jaunts have taken me to places from the high endemism filled volcanic archipelago of both The Canary Islands & Cape Verde Islands, to down under in Tasmania, seed collecting for the Royal Horticultural Society & Kent Garden’s Trust.

You simply can’t beat observing plants in their native habitat to improve your plant husbandry back home. However not all my plant hunting trips have gone so ‘horticulturally swimmingly’. On March the 16th 2000, whilst Orchid hunting in the rainforest endowed Darien Gap, a friend and I found ourselves on the receiving end of an AK-47 stuck to our temples and were held hostage for 9-months before being released! On 16th June, during my Colombian kidnap ordeal, I opened my diary and began plans for my ‘World Garden’ which would contain plants from around the globe planted in their respective continents of origin. My vision for The World Garden was finally born on Easter Saturday 2005, all made possible by the support of family, friends and the community.  Each year we welcome so many visitors, sharing and inspiring new plant hunters, although I still manage to find time to go travelling to add to my never ending plant collection!

Tom Hart Dyke, Curator of The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, Kent

www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk

Aerial Photograph of Lullingstone Castle by Stephen Sangster
Celebrity

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Sarah Owen-Hughes

A Career in Joy

Sarah Owen-Hughes at Tromso Botanic Garden

Gardening is a joyous activity. Whether inhaling the wet earth smell of promise when lifting the first potatoes to being passed a glimmer of optimism in a tissue-wrapped cutting, it is something that brings out the kindness and generosity of strangers, and a deeper closeness with friends who also share the love.

It is a love that changes every day, and one can never, ever learn enough. In a single week I can receive a text stating ‘My neighbour is cutting down their pear tree. Stop it.’; find a bag of golden quinces on my doorstep; visit a leading local horticultural research facility and arrange to travel to Spain with some students on an Erasmus Aquaponics project. It is a career or hobby that constantly enriches, even on the wettest and coldest days.

And yet horticulture is facing a recruitment crisis. The RHS Horticulture Matters report in 2014 found that 72% of surveyed businesses struggled to fill skilled vacancies (RHS, 2014). NFU Horticulture board chair Ali Capper recently identified a 29% shortage in the labour market, with fears that this will only increase as we negotiate the movement of labour post Brexit (HortWeek, 2018). I had a message from a former student recently about forestry work in Canada, where he told me that he could place up to 250 young people with arboriculture qualifications. This is an international issue.

I was also reading recently about the increase in mental health conditions in young adults, partially identified as being caused by societal pressures to succeed, and it struck me that horticulture could be part of a solution. Instead of directing them to financially ruinous degrees with the pressure of a high-income job at the end, why not teach youngsters to pursue a career in joy? I don’t want to say of my children “They work too hard” when they are older. I want to say, “They love their job”.

Creating Secret Gardens at the Deershed Festival.

Imagine leaving home every morning to visit different farms, nurseries and garden centres as a Plant Health Inspector; working with a team to grow and harvest microgreens or medicinal herbs in an LED facility; developing legislation with the government Pesticides authority; designing and building a garden for a local school, training to be a botanical artist or teaching students about the miracle of seeds breaking their dormancy? These are all jobs that former students have gone on to do, and nothing gives me greater joy than hearing where they are in the world and how much they love their lives. And let’s dismiss the idea that horticulture is only a low paid career for low skilled people – the Head of Gardens at the Eden Project is being advertised at £55k, which is hardly a job for someone who is “too thick to be an electrician” (former student, undated).

The next time you watch a cyclamen flowerhead spiral its way back down to the ground to deposit its seed, or you feel the crunch of dry leaves underfoot as you walk to the shed, please, please share the joy. Tell a child or a young adult about how that makes you feel, let them into the secret. It is a joy that will sustain them for the rest of their lives.

Installing a sedum roof at home

Sarah Owen-Hughes, MCIoH, Horticulture Lecturer, Askham Bryan College, York. Sarah is the External Examiner for the Horticulture degree programmes at the Eden Project, Cornwall & Kirkley Hall, Northumberland.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/Education-Learning/PDF/Training/1016-RHS-Hort-Careers-Brochure-V8.pdf

https://www.hortweek.com/labour-crisis-update-bad-shortage-season/fresh-produce/article/1497170

Celebrity

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Patrick Vickery

Patrick is a Horticulture/Newspaper Columnist and Author

A day in the life

It’s 6.30 in the morning, Scottish Highlands, a woolly hat sort of day, brittle ice, crispy coldness. I put the cackling ducks outside (they spent the night in the security of the kitchen on account of the sly fox that killed the unsuspecting hens and would almost certainly kill the cackling ducks given half a chance), fed the bleating goats, discussed the weather with the bristling cat as I guided her into the garden with a broom (useful for cat-guiding situations), checked the fat goldfish was still alive (old fish, still alive), then tied my boot laces at the exact moment the big-eared dog (Jasper) vigorously shook his head resulting in a sequence of rapid slaps across my face with his ears. Very painful.

                I de-iced the car in the twilight dawning of the early morning and set off for work accompanied by a flask of coffee, smarting cheeks from oscillating dog ears and a mobile phone in case someone should call requiring urgent assistance with an unforeseen shrubbery incident. I had not gone far when I stopped to allow three stern geese to cross the road, at which point they answered my consideration by attacking the car, vicious blighters, in stark contrast to the escaped cow further down the road who gave me nothing more than a cursory glance as I overtook her at a snail’s pace.

Geese often guarded whisky distilleries in the past, you know, and provided an effective alarm system with integral deterrent (pecking) should anyone attempt to make off with a barrel or two, although in more recent times they have fallen out of favour due to their complete disregard for the notion of intent. Intent to steal whisky – deserving of a good peck. Non intent to steal whisky – still deserving of a good peck. Not pleasant. On a par with oscillating dog ears across the face. Give me a casual cow any day.

The day had started badly. It could only get better. It did. A pleasant pruning, chopping and blethering sort of day ensued. I was half way up an apple tree when I took an urgent phone call requesting Jaffa cakes and something tasty for supper. A request for something tasty for supper is not unusual and often results in whatever I can lay my hands on in a hurry. A cheese and onion quiche, perhaps? Though Jaffa cakes are easier, more specific and to the point. Jaffa cakes, incidentally, have replaced traditional half-time oranges at football matches. Disappointing.

Shopping complete, I returned home as dusk was falling. The bristling cat sat on the doorstep with the cackling ducks waiting to be let in.

So there you have it, a day in the life of a full-time gardener in the Scottish Highlands. It is late evening as I sit at the kitchen table writing this, the house is relaxed and peaceful, the only sounds to be heard are the cackle of contented ducks, the snore of a satisfied and big eared dog and the light tapping of a grammatically challenged rural rambling man on the laptop computer

Please visit Patrick’s website to find out more about him

http://www.patrickvickery.com

Celebrity

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Colin Moat

 

Colin Moat is Chairman of Plant Fair Roadshow and owner of Pineview Plants

Plant Fairs Roadshow

Now with 10 events and brilliant venues lined up for our eighth year, it’s amazing to think back to our start in 2011. The catalyst was formed in 2010 with a few nursery owners having time to stand around chatting due to attending another poorly attended plant fair. They decided that instead of moaning they would do something about it, and organise their own. They identified that the problem, wasn’t the quality of the product, after all some of the leading independent nurseries in the South East had been there, but the marketing had been poor.
Initially, it started with just a couple of venues, Hall Place in Bexley, Kent and the Telegraph Hill Centre in New Cross, South London, only for a few hours, but the response from plant hungry gardeners to the exciting range of interesting, unusual and sometimes rare plants was overwhelming. This convinced them, that they were doing the right thing. They recruited a Plant Doctor (Quentin Stark Head Gardener at Hole Park) to attend their events to help visitors, by diagnosing or advising on plants, or, garden problems (or, as a personal plant shopper!). Over the years, mainly in response to enquiries from well respected garden owners, or, venues, who liked the idea of a readymade event; Plant Fairs Roadshow has become more established.
The fact it’s not run by an ‘Event Organiser’ company appeals, as it comes with its own energy, identity and passion of the nursery owners. They are keen for their precious plants to do well in the purchasers garden, and are happy to give advice to ensure it thrives, rather than treat it as just a commodity.
Over the intervening years they have formed a collective (an ‘Association’) of like-minded, independent specialist nurseries, of sufficient quality and variety. They now hold events across the South East of England, from Arundel Castle (29th April 2018) on the coast of West Sussex, Chawton House in Hampshire, Telegraph Hill Centre in South East London and in 2019, Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, plus many others.
Colin Moat, Chair and events coordinator comments ‘that 2018 seemed to be a breakthrough year with an exciting range of venues, but we wouldn’t be where we are now, without the outstanding range and quality of the plants offered by our participating growers. In addition to finding lots of great independent nurseries (a number being RHS exhibitors) all in one place, their plants are normally offered at about two thirds of the price of Garden Centres. So for visitors and nurseries alike it’s a ‘win, win’ situation that’s why I think it’s so successful. Plus, if they want advice for the right plant for the right place, they can ask our Plant Doctor.’

A list of Plant Fairs Roadshow events for 2019 can be found on our website, along with details of some of our brilliant nurseries,

visit http://www.plant-fairs.co.uk