Over the years I have supplied plants and worked with the head gardener at “The Salutation” in Sandwich, which is a Sir Edward Lutyens designed mansion house of historical importance. I supplied many plants and ideas and note now that this garden is extremely popular and successful from a financial point of view attracting visitors and events throughout the year.
I have also worked on the restoration of another Lutyens built House in Barham, near Canterbury, for Mrs. Ellen Kent, who is an international Opera Producer. Although neither of these properties had proven direct contact with Gertrude Jekyll, I drew on her aspirations and designs. This is a private house and is not open to public view.
In 2012, I spent a year as Head Gardener for The Countess Sondes Estate in Baddlesmere. I restored and corrected the gardens to an amazing standard and had very positive comments from all concerned. I was also given the opportunity to design new gardens on the estate, which needed to look as though they had been in place for 300 years using very old historic varieties of plants I feel that this was my best work.
I am also head gardener at Elverton Farm (since 2005), employed by Mrs Johnson. Over the last 14 years, I have enjoyed our work producing beautiful panting schemes whilst being sympathetic to the 15th Century historical background of the house and landscape.
My latest project is with East Kent Mencap in Margate, where I will transform the garden of a residential home in Palm Bay.
It has taken me 25 years to create this small independent nursery from open farmland to the traditional cottage style gardens it is today. I've always been a 'naturally gifted' gardener and intuitively know what plants are and what they require. I genuinely struggle to accept the loss of hardy specimen and deeply regret that small independent nurseries - often family run - have declined very dramatically in the last 10 years, due to the pressures of business from large chains and groups. I believe far too many garden plants and shrubs are imported from the continent, which causes horticulture to thrive in other economies, but is at a very low ebb here in the UK. In fact, I think we have pretty much destroyed our own horticultural industry and it is for that reason, that we as "small-niche-growers", along with all other gardeners in the country, can change this situation around by focusing again on native species and localised growing practices, as well as biodiversity.
I am absolutely passionate about pollinating insects and the loss of bees worldwide. This concern drives my growing specifically for their benefit. My approach is entirely organic and I mostly concentrate on native British perennials, since there are so few. I believe many of them have been dismissed, or are neglected as too old fashioned/ out of date/ have erratic germination/ are not easily kept in a pot and therefore cannot be produced quickly and cheaply in the vast quantities as they do on the continent. I always grow from seed and from the past; thus avoiding weak plants which often prove to be annual and not fully hardy. I also often “trial” new perennials and shrubs for up to 2 seasons before passing them on with an honest opinion of their worth.
A lot of my time is normally taken up with the 'Ladybirds', my successful female only Whitstable & Kent based gardening company that I set up about 20 years ago. But this year (2019) I have reached a level of professional capacity that allows me to introduce my so far secret pollinator conservation nursery to the public. Now I can give quality time to people interested in the subject and personally show them around, highlighting to them the importance of bee and butterfly-friendly planting. During your visit I will help you with questions about where to plant and how to look after the plants you buy.