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Magazine
Tom Sharples

I am a horticulturalist by trade, beginning my career by attending the Hertfordshire College of Horticulture where I acquired the Higher National Diploma in Commercial Horticulture. I then moved on to Bath University to obtain my Bsc.

 

My first position was in the Lea Valley north of London, at that time a real centre of horticultural production. There I managed a nursery of some 2 acres of cut flowers.

 

After some eighteen months I felt the need to move on and gain as much experience and knowledge of as many crops as possible in a short time. I moved up to Llangollen in North Wales to take a position as Trial Ground Manager, growing a wide range of flowers and vegetables for the seed firms of Carters, Cuthberts and Dobies. Part of this role involved working with Carters lawn seed team of experts. At this time, Carters was the exclusive supplier of lawn seed to the Lawn Tennis Association, which involved me in many advisory visits to the grass courts at Wimbledon! 

 

In due course I moved on from trials which involved quality control on all the seed grown items the companies offered and trialling these against new introductions from all over the world, to enter the world of new product development. This involved travelling the world looking for new products and I was very much involved in the development of young seedlings and plant plugs for postal delivery to home gardeners.

 

I was approached by Suttons Seeds who wanted me to fulfil a similar role to that at Dobies, and also to take on catalogue production and ultimately the marketing function.

 

When retirement beckoned, I was requested to stay on and take on a training role for budding new horticulturalists, a role I thoroughly enjoyed, putting something back into an industry I had come to love. 

 

Since leaving Suttons I have continued to be involved in judging plant trials for the RHS as well as being a 'Britain in Bloom' judge. I am also still involved in copywriting and editing.

 

Another role I enjoy is giving gardening talks and lectures to gardening societies, WI's, Rotary clubs and latterly, to Parent Teacher associations, helping young parents enter the world of growing and address peer pressure from their children! 

 

Apart from the world of gardening my interests are in following sports such as cricket and football and partaking in Pilates, which has kept me fit for many years.

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