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.


In the Garden : June

We have reached the month of June already! Another year is flying by! Recently we have had some heavy rain and boy did we need it, our gardens were getting on the dry side! June is a key month in our gardens as growth really accelerates, so it is really important to keep on top of things to make your gardening easier later in the summer!


Gardening Tips for June

Watering becomes increasingly important in June as the days lengthen and the sun’s intensity increases, often resulting in rapid growth. Late April and early May were dry times in many areas of the UK, but fortunately, recent downpours have improved the situation. 


Gardening Tips for May

There is still time to get rid of moss patches in the lawn, using moss-killer or by raking. Don’t forget you can improve ‘thinning’ areas by ‘over-sowing’ with a quality lawn seed mixture and raking in where possible. Remember though that you need to keep the surface moist until the new grass becomes established.


In the Garden : May

The month of May is with us, with longer days and (we hope) more heat in the sun. So far, spring has been reasonably kind to us, though we have a few late frosts to cause us worry. Let’s take a look at what we need to do in the garden this month.


Gardening Tips for April

Brown patches on your lawn after the winter weather? Now’s the time to treat them!

Rake out dead grass with a spring tine type rake and roughen the resulting soil surface. Using a gardening sieve, apply some ‘weed-free’ garden compost to the patch, rake again and then apply some fresh lawn seed. Rake in gently and ensure the seed is kept moist. Germination should take 1-2 weeks.


In the Garden : April

Spring is definitely with us as the days lengthen and there is more warmth in the sun. Our trees and hedgerows begin to show a tinge of green and this is mirrored by the plants in our gardens. We are heading into a busy gardening month, so let’s take a look at those tasks to work on in April!


Gardening Tips for March

Wash down and clean inside and outside of greenhouses to improve light transmission and dispose of pests & diseases. Wash and clean all your seed trays and pots too. Clear all weeds from the garden – a clean start will pay dividends!


In the Garden : March

March is with us and lets hope we will have a good, warm start to get out in the garden and get growing!


Gardening Tips for February

Wash down and clean inside and outside of greenhouses to improve light transmission and dispose of pests & diseases. Wash and clean all your seed trays and pots too.


In the Garden : February

February is with us, bringing hopes of an early spring to brighten what has been a difficult winter! Strange though, how through the last couple of years, our gardens have proved to be our inspiration and salvation. 

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