Who am I?

I am a gardener and garden writer. I’ve been working for Which? Gardening magazine for more than 15 years, have contributed to a book (‘1000 Plants You Must Grow Before You Die’) and have also written articles for The Garden and other titles, as well as this website.

Where did I come from?

I started studying horticulture as a mature student over twenty years ago, taking my first RHS qualification at Capel Manor College in Enfield and then working my way through all the RHS courses up to the Master of Horticulture. I also have a qualification in planting design.

My work in gardening started with a garden maintenance round and ‘planning and planting’ service, tackling small scale planting plans. I started working for Which? Gardening magazine in 2005, at their trial garden on rented land in the grounds of Capel Manor College. At first I was a gardener and I kept records on the trials, but later became a Principal researcher, writer and manager of the trial garden. I took part in the monthly members phone-in for about ten years and posed for regular photo shoots.

I have worked with the RHS on some of their AGM trials at Wisley, first as chair of the Penstemon forum (2013-2016) and more recently as a member of the fruit forum and persicaria forum. I’ve judged rose trials; the Glasgow International Rose Trials in Tollcross Park, Glasgow, and Rose of the Year and Gold Standard Rose trials, when those were held at The Gardens of the Rose in St Albans. In 2018 I was one of the judges on the Fleuroselect Marigold trial, grown at the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens and now am helping to assess the new Rochfords International Rose trials.

I garden at home and on my allotment and keep up to date with the industry through regular visits to industry events, public garden shows and gardens.

What am I doing here?

New plants

While working for Which? Gardening magazine I wrote a monthly article on new plant introductions for many years. I got to know a lot of very experienced and knowledgeable people in the horticulture trade who are involved in introducing new varieties of plants; breeders, breeders agents, wholesale plant suppliers, online retailers, nurseries and garden centres.

Plant breeders respond to trends but also set them, shaping the gardens of the future. Its a fascinating world and I want to carry on looking at, growing and writing about new introductions on this website.

And old plants

Over the years I also set up, planted, monitored and wrote the magazine articles for a huge number of trials of roses, herbaceous perennials, shrubs, climbers, some vegetables and quite a lot of fruit. More recently I’ve written online reviews of many types of garden machinery and written articles on garden chemicals, treatments and plant feeds, composting techniques, various types of wildlife and houseplants.

Through all of this I’ve gained an enormous amount of experience of growing, and writing about, a very wide range of flowers, fruit and veg.

I want to use that experience on this website to encourage others to enjoy growing plants without worrying too much about what they know and don’t know. There is a lot to learn about gardening but it is possible to create beauty in your outside space with a fairly basic understanding of a few underlying principles. The rest will follow, if you want it to.