[Infographic] How to create your urban garden?
Most of us have dealt with gardens at some point; turfs to mow, plants to take care of, flowers to be planted or hedges to be trimmed. For some of us gardening is simply a hobby or a domestic chore, while for some of us it is being developed into a deep passion, that grows stronger over time.
You might start out small in your garden or in your neighborhood to get familiar with gardens and plants, and suddenly you realize that gardening has become a part of your life: the smell of freshly-cut grass, the morning dew on the roses and the fluttering branches and leaves. And maybe you will get to the point where you’d like to turn your gardening passion into a real job? A job that requires patience, curiosity and a lot of dedication.
What does it take to become a professional gardener? David Hedges-Gower, a real gardening and lawn care expert, is telling us his story on how he turned his biggest passion into a profession.
David’s story is a peculiar one: he started his career as a young, promising golfer but moved to garden care after a bad injury. When he was 19 years old, he was already Head Green-keeper, and the journey from being a promising golfer to become a lawn care expert happened gradually:
“As a young lad, like many, I had big dreams, but so many of us have to deal with failure and heartbreak about ultimately not reaching these goals. I’ve always loved the outdoors, but I’ve also admired beauty in many things. With hindsight I wasn’t as driven as I could have been at an early age, but in the long run I did have the determination to be the best I possibly could be at what I chose to do.
I became HG as it was too good an opportunity to turn down, as Richard Branson once said, take the job and learn later! I think my love of gardening, has improved as I have got older, due to knowing and understanding its requirement within our DNA and well-being.”
Was a professional gardening school a part of David’s journey to become a gardening and lawn care expert? And are there any gardening schools he is recommending for turning gardening passion into a profession?
“Back when I was a young man, education was not great anywhere (looking back in hindsight again) for horticulture and it became apparent to me at an early age that being self taught would be a phase and a meaning that would play a big part in what I believed. Sports turf has improved vastly over the years but lawn care has not. Hence why I will be launching a British Lawn Association, which will roll out a consistent form of education for lawn care. Then, Europe next?”
What does it take to turn a passion for gardening into a profession? By having daily contact with a number of professional gardeners, David discovered that gardening masters are real problem solvers:
“I’ve always had the opportunity to look sometimes from the outside in, from my experience of working with many great gardeners and I’ve always believed that they are some of the best at managing, resolving and adapting. Dealing with a powerful force such as nature is good when it all comes together, but everyday, gardeners are forced to adapt and change what they have learnt, as nature throws different curveballs at us all the time.
So, gardeners are and have been forced to become proactive and find solutions to many problems. You need dedication and enthusiasm for any job, but like a boxer, I and my contemporaries who work in horticulture are dealt huge blows which sometimes puts us (and our gardens) down, but we always get back up, dust ourselves off and go again. Ever the optimist!”
David story tells us that daily practice is fundamental for becoming a professional gardener. Did David have a mentor or was there a master than influenced his career? Surprisingly, no! David is a self-taught man, who discovered lawn care on his own to accomplish his goals:
“Believe it or not, with lawn care there hasn’t been anyone to be honest. I think laterally quite a lot and have always wanted to lead where I could. Upon leaving the top of the sports field industry, I came into lawn care and saw that it had a long way to go to get recognized in the way it should. A multi billion pound industry, not guided by anyone in participial. That to me was a challenge and a bigger one than I had achieved before. It’s sad not to be able to point to anyone in particular that played a huge part, I’ve just adapted reading about success in other fields and powered that towards galvanizing a wonderful and powerful industry into achieving much more.”
“Grass is a powerful plant and covers 20% of this planet in various guises so one thing I look at is how important this plant is to us and our DNA. Our lives change all the time and so does our climate, so every day brings a challenge, if you’re prepared to look for one. My philosophy has always been to push the boundaries, so listen to what I’m told, learn from it and then find an easier, better way.
I’m not sure who taught me this skill, but I’ve always told my staff and in training, throughout my career to self evaluate regularly. How did I do? What did I do well? What didn’t I? What improvements could have been made? I’ve never needed plaudits from people, I’ve looked for that from myself. There is no better critic than yourself.”
From golf turfs to garden care, a natural journey filled with challenges. What are David Hedges-Gower’s recommendations to people that want to follow in his footsteps? David believes everyone has a personal path:
“Gardening is probably something we all do at some point in our lives, even if it’s just mowing a bit of grass as a young child, but it’s value in life is not as good as it can and should be. It’s deemed by many to be a choice of job to go into when you’ve failed at something else. Working with nature and gardens teaches you enormous values that you can use in your life and all will make for a happy, healthy one. You cant breed or teach someone how to get to the top so I would never preach that that’s the way everyone should go, but I’ve never wanted anything other than fulfillment in what I do. I teach and consult now but only through a self determination that comes from within, but that does not have to be the same path for everyone.”
Being a gardening expert and being an influencer are very different things. Also, to carry them both on successfully requires not only time and dedication, but also skills to communicate the knowledge to the audience. Were David’s communication skills something innate or have they been improve over time?
“As a gardener, that seems an odd question really as having brown fingers is my skill (that’s what all gardeners will say) and of course it is. You have to learn the core skills to be able to understand and improve them and to be able to communicate them. Being a gardener that left school wanting to be a sportsman, first and foremost was something that shows, education was not my top priority. I like to see problems, things that aren’t done well or even sometimes pointlessly done and look at how to change things. We all over-complicate things as it justifies our enormous efforts sometimes, but like grass, life is pretty simple and what we all want!”
David’s story tells us that when we are strongly motivated to reach a goal, everything is possible. A professional “glitch” due to unforeseen circumstances didn’t let him down as a young boy, and he managed to turn his passion for gardening into an actual profession. To question yourself everyday, to pay attention to details, to be curious and to apply the art of “learning by doing”, lead him to become an important influencer in his field. There’s no set path for who wants to become a professional gardener, what is required is the willingness to learn the job, starting with daily practice and adding a bit of knowledge, determination and passion every day. The rest will follow, by practice and by getting the hands dirty.
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