My Horticultural Story
I first became interested in plants and gardening at an early age. I would help my parents and grandparents in their gardens. Things that really inspired me as a child were growing plants from seed; vegetables and flowers, like snap dragons. Growing unusual plants quickly became a hobby. I would grow all sorts of unusual tropical fruits from seed; avocados, citrus, pomegranates and Lychees to name a few. I loved discovering interesting fruits or vegetables, with growing potential in greengrocers’ shops, whenever we visited China Town in London.
A family holiday to Cornwall, when I was ten years old, really enthused me and fuelled this interest. Seeing pineapples in the kitchen garden, tree ferns and bromeliads in the jungle at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, captivated my imagination as a child. Once home (with lots of plants), I started developing my patch of the garden into an exotic paradise. It is still flourishing to this day, with a chusan palm approaching three or four metres tall. I also planted other curiosities; like white mulberry, so that we could raise silk moth caterpillars.
In my mid-teens, I created an Asian inspired woodland garden, at the top of mum and dad’s garden. These experiences inspired me to do a work experience, at my local garden centre; Olivers Nurseries, when I was fifteen. I worked there seasonally and part-time whilst I studied my horticultural degree, at Writtle University College. After graduating, I took the journeyman root, working for the National Trust, Longwood Gardens in the USA, an Orchid Conservation Centre called APROVACA, in Panama and at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.
I then settled into my current role, with the Royal Horticultural Society, as Horticulturalist (Horticultural Award), in the Alpine Team. Seeing alpines in the wild, in mountain environments really got me hooked. Whilst working at Wisley, I have had the opportunity to develop some exciting new planting schemes, helping select plants for the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). I also created a new National Plant Collection of Astilbe, false goat’s beard, bred by nurseryman Georg Arends.
I passionately believe that plants and gardening can bring joy to everyone. People from all walks of life or any part of the world, can benefit from being able to watch something grow; whether that’s a trip to the local park, your garden, allotment or flat windowsill. No matter how much space you have, the enriching experience of nurturing plants and greenspaces brings relaxation and fulfilment to all.
My blog website https://jmwisbeymiller.wordpress.com/ and my Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/miller_jamesm/