Kate Tuke

As a tom boy I spent much of my childhood outside and probably should have pursued a career in horticulture straight after school. However I was put off by the thought of all those Latin names and so got sidetracked into other things. It was not until the early 1990’s, whilst standing in a temple garden in Northern China, that I realised just how much I love plants and gardens. I determined then that I would change career and study horticulture.
After a stint at Hadlow College in Kent studying horticulture, I worked for a year at Read’s Nursery in Norfolk. They specialised in tender plants suitable for growing in conservatories, as well as figs, citrus, indoor grapes and pot grown fruit. A fabulous year as a student at RHS Wisley followed where I learnt so much, but the highlight of that time was the amazing opportunity to spend 3 weekends working at Great Dixter. That garden, Christopher Lloyd and the head gardener Fergus Garret, continue to be a huge inspiration to me.
For the past 18 years I have been working for the National Trust here in the South West. I started as assistant head gardener at Killerton in Devon, was promoted to head gardener there for 7 years, before moving to Montacute in Somerset for the last 3 years. Over the years I have supported, encouraged and taught horticultural skills to many people, from junior staff to students, volunteers and members of the public. I now wish to share my knowledge with a wider audience.
I have been very fortunate to have nearly always gardened on a large scale, working in magnificent gardens both private and those open to the public. That said, one of my all time favourite gardens was tiny, but it was rammed with as many of the plants as I could fit in, with many others grown in an assortment of pots and containers. There is an intimacy that I cherish associated with small gardens, which can also be found in cleverly designed garden rooms, compartments or just a well positioned bench. There is something magical about being up close and personal with the plants that surround you, with your hands in the soil.

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