A bit of Crambe in the garden…
Brandon George is a professional Horticulturist currently living in New England. He is a graduate of the Longwood Garden’s Professional Horticulture Program and has gone on to work and live in many places including London, England, U.K. and Jerusalem, Israel. Within the industry, his focus and strengths are in education and garden design. In additional to his interest in horticulture, he enjoys world travel and currently hosts Horticulture Rising, a horticulture-based podcast.
Sojurn: England: The birth of my career in Horticulture
Time is the concept always pulsing through the vein of horticulture, I can think of nothing that humbles me more. When I meet people in the horticulture industry, lighthearted conversations often begin with; how long until something will be in bloom, or when it’s best to experience a particular garden. When it comes to our careers in this industry, the time we invest is no exception. This year, it will be five years since I left the U.K. In that period of reflection, the thought that crosses my mind the most when I think of my time living there is quite simple, this is where my career in horticulture began.
In January 2013, I moved from Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. to the southwest of London to begin a new life with my partner. It was an exciting adventure for me, and one that changed my life forever. I was fortunate enough to find a job working in the plant area of my local Squire’s Garden Centre quite quickly. Over the next 3 years, I was given the opportunity to go on courses at RHS Wisley, and began studying the RHS Levels 2 & 3 in the Principles of Horticulture on my own. I even got to help with the building of our company’s display garden for three years at the Hampton Court Flower Show. Beyond that, I began to travel extensively to gardens in greater London and all over Europe.
While that is a brief summary of my time in London, I want to make something clear. Before I came to England, I didn’t know where my career was heading. I graduated with a degree in Finance in 2011, but lacking the drive to continue on this path, I was unsure of my aspirations. This country gave me the opportunity to redefine myself and explore my passion for plants to the greatest degree. Perhaps it was partially to do with being in the right place at the right time, London certainly is one of the epicenters of horticulture in the world.
But gardening permeates through this country like no other I have seen or have visited before. From the most humble of plots to the grandest estates, I fell in love with this nation’s love of plants. On my days off, I’d often stroll through Bushy Park and in winter would patiently walk the borders and grounds of the Hampton Court Palace searching for signs of the coming spring, looking for budding snowdrops and daffodils. I’d visit the artsy boat gardens of Regents Canal and discovered the most beautiful pergola covered in roses in Hampstead Heath in June. Even the weedy daisies thriving in the cracks of stone walls could create magic in the otherwise ordinary. Here, for the first time, I realized the potential for people to find healing from working with plants, in part to charities such as Thrive, in Battersea Park. This particular experience has even begun to shape my career goals in the coming year.
Allowing gardening an opportunity to change someone’s life in the U.K. is without a doubt, of the reasons why I love this country so much; it certainly has shaped and inspired mine. The friends I have made here are some of my greatest and have helped me find my place within the industry and continue to do so. As an American, I consider myself to be a self-professed ambassador to the U.K. Jokes aside, however, I am proud of having lived here and am grateful for the opportunity I was given to work alongside so many wonderful and inspiring people. Each time I return I am reminded that this is where it all began for me. With that thought, I hope to inspire others through my love of the U.K. to go and see their gardens, and expect to come back with a greater appreciation for this kingdom of gardeners.