The staff at The Potted Garden have years of horticultural experience, both theoretical and practical, enabling them to offer our customers expert gardening and plant care advice.
Each of the permanent staff have put together a little about themselves and you will find their profiles below - clicking on their names will take you directly to each person's information.
I started my career in horticulture over 20 years ago at Whitelegg's Garden Centre and Nursery near Sevenoaks (now sadly no longer in existence) as 'the boy' and left 14 years later as Garden Centre Manager. During that time I was involved with the creation of a Gold Medal winning garden at Chelsea and also studied at Hadlow College for 3 years, gaining a National Diploma in Commercial Horticulture, specialising in Hardy Ornamental Nursery Stock.
After leaving Whitelegg's I put my experience to use as a garden centre consultant and also did private gardening, nursery work, grounds maintenance and took six months off. I enjoyed my time off very much as I was able to look around many nurseries and gardens that previously I had been too busy to visit.
I've been at The Potted Garden since 2001 when my wife, Amanda, and I took over The Nursery.
My role here includes plant buying and sourcing, planning future site development, staff recruitment and keeping the staff supplied with chocolate biscuits!
I can't imagine another job that would keep me in regular contact with so many plants, both old and new, as this one does, and that's why I love it so much.
My favourite plants tend to vary from month to month (or day to day) but Daphne and Philadelphus for their scent, tall perennials, Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii 'Goldsturm' for its bright flowers that go on for months, Apple 'Red Falstaff' because it tastes great, Geranium 'Ann Folkard' looks fabulous scrambling through other plants and anything variegated. There are very few plants I dislike, but I really don't like bronze or brown leaved grasses, they just look dead to me!
I started in horticulture over twenty years ago working in a garden centre before going on to Hadlow College. There I studied for a National Certificate in Horticulture. I then worked at a large wholesale nursery for two and a half years gaining experience in the commercial production of trees and shrubs before joining The Potted Garden in 1992.
At The Potted Garden I am the Nursery Manager and my role involves organising the day-to-day tasks, plant production, some purchasing and serving our customers.
We grow, here on site, the majority of the shrubs and perennials we sell and I get satisfaction from raising them to the point where they can be sold.
My favourite plants include Amelanchier, Fascicularia bicolor, Philadelphus and Thujopsis dolobrata. I also love the fact that there will always be a plant I have never seen before. I enjoy the detail that can be seen in a plant which can be just as beautiful as the plant as a whole.
My strengths are plant identification, pest and disease diagnosis and assisting customers with their purchases and plant problems.
• BTEC National Diploma in Horticulture – Distinction and Bradstone Salver Award for the Best Overall Student
• RHS Advanced Certificate in Horticulture
• City and Guilds in Garden Design – Credit
• BTEC First Diploma in Horticulture – Distinction and Principal's Prize for Best Overall Student
• Hadlow College Diploma in Horticulture, Landscape and Amenity – Distinction
• NPTC Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Pesticides – PA1 & PA6A
Rather than having a specific field of expertise I have a good general knowledge of horticulture over a broad range of disciplines, being able to turn my hand from trees to perennials and garden design to pest identification.
Favourite plants – how to choose?! Every plant has to earn its place in the garden, whether it be for its form, texture, scent, sound, colour or just a good filler or backdrop to show off the others. Because of this, it’s impossible to choose just one, two or even three so here are just some of my top plants:
• Daphnes – beautifully scented flowers at a time of the year when there isn’t much of interest about.
• Helleborus x hybridus cultivars – producing masses of flowers that last an age, marking the start of spring.
• Acer palmatum 'Garnet' – for form and texture; Acers just can’t be beaten and their firey autumn display is stunning.
• Grasses – add another textural and architectural dimension to a garden lasting late into the year and looking great when covered in frost. Two of my favourites are Stipa gigantea and Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'.
• Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' – OK, so not an unusual plant but a 'must have' with rich purple foliage. Best, I think, kept hard pruned like ours on The Nursery.
For all of the staff at The Nursery our primary role is to look after you, the customer, answering your garden questions and trying to solve your dilemmas, making plant suggestions or just being there to put compost in your car, free muscle as it were. Some of my colleagues might say that it's my primary job to be cheeky, childish and chirpy but that’s not what I am employed to be, its just an added bonus!My position at The Nursery is that of the Sundries, Displays and Maintenance Manager and I’m responsible for keeping the shop well stocked, I have a small team of assistants to help me. I also put together all the displays on The Nursery, making everything look at its best, or as the other staff members like to call it “faffing around”.
I am also one of the designated first aiders on the nursery, which, I am told, is the best reason not to have an accident. I don’t really understand what is meant by this as I am always more than willing to give the kiss of life!
• C&G of London Institute – Practice of Horticulture (commercial)
• C&G of London Institute – Farm Machinery
• A.T.B Craft Certificate – Fruit Production (Top and Stone Fruit)
• A.T.B Craft Certificate – Soft Fruit
• A.T.B Course Certificate – Top Fruit Pruning Instruction
• A.T.B Effective Supervision and Lower Management
I started work at East Malling Research Station in 1976 doing a three year apprenticeship before moving on to general farm work. This involved working with scientists on soft and top fruit, specifically spraying and pruning. Later, I took a supervisory role in charge of 9/10 staff, which increased to 25 in summer with English and foreign students.
I started at The Potted Garden in 2000.
At The Nursery I help customers, and I'm also responsible for taking care of, and the stocking up of, ornamental trees and top and soft fruit, as well as keeping the pot area stocked up and tidy. I am also certified for the safe handling of pesticides and handle most of the pest control.
My strengths in work terms are being able to help customers with pruning techniques on fruit trees, apple identification, other fruit related problems and pest control.
My favourite plants include Mediterranean fruiting plants such as olives and citrus because citrus trees have a fantastic scent and the olive groves look great on wind swept hillsides.
I started my horticultural career in Yeovil taking a one-day-a-week basic horticultural course. The rest of the week was spent working in the grounds and on the tree and fruit production sites at the Forde Abbey estate in Dorset. I then spent the next three years taking a National Diploma in Horticulture at Hadlow College where I met Rob. After leaving college I didn't look for a horticultural job but took courses in word processing and typing before taking office based jobs; these have proved to be invaluable, giving me the skills and experience to run The Nursery's administration office.
I still love plants but most of my involvement with them now is through tending them in my own garden. Working at The Nursery is great when I want something new, the choice here is fantastic! My favourites are the perennials, I love the way they come up bigger and better each year.
In 2001 I started to feed the birds and since then an area dedicated to the birds and wildlife has evolved. My office faces the garden and it gives me a lot of pleasure to see the wide range of birds and animals we've managed to encourage into such a small space.