I don’t have a garden I can call my own but I am fortunate to have chosen a lifelong career, where I get to be in a position of influence to gardeners worldwide.
Having worked internationally as Head Gardener for prestigious country estate’s in both Europe and in the US, I have gained vast gardening experience of plants, people and places and enjoy sharing all aspects of horticulture with one and all.
Since my apprenticeship days with the National Trust as a bright-eyed teenager things have digitalised. Our web-based lives have made sharing my passion at the tap of a screen so easy it’s become child’s play. I may not be a teacher in the typical sense of the word, but I like to teach the World to grow and I sure do enjoy instructing and demonstrating to a keen and captive audience.
These days you will find me amongst the beds and borders of a prestigious Cheshire Country Estate that spans over 50 acres. The restoration project I have recently undertaken along with ten, dedicated permanent and seasonal staff, is a huge challenge both from the managerial aspects and the horticultural commitment.
The team and I are not only restoring but also improving the initial garden designs and planting plans, to incorporate modern-day techniques and efficiency to improve the horticultural standards and procedures across the estate.
Blessed with a slightly acidic free draining soil, the garden is packed full of aging evergreen Rhododendrons and Camellia’s, Azaleas and Heather’s. Dappled shade is provided by stately Magnolias that cannot fail to impress.
Fifteen acres of wild flower meadows border the estate and a detailed management programme is now in place to ensure the diversity and range of wild flowers is maintained with regular hand sowing of short-lived native flowers.
Fortunately since harrowing of the meadow was completed in early Spring a family of badgers visit the site each evening on the search for grubs and beetles. Our resident badgers cultivate areas of the meadow in the nocturnal hunt for a tasty morsel, further dispersing seeds and keeping perennial buttercup and overpowering grasses in check.
Enhancing nature is a gardeners fortitude and will require a strength of mind and back, the lakeside planting is lush and marginal, full to the brim with moisture loving perennials that further enhance this man-made, butyl lined wildlife haven.
The sumptuous Acer glade is a recent addition to the encroaching woodland that provides much-needed shelter from the strong winds that batter the exposed areas of this elevated sandstone ridge on the edge of the Cheshire plains.
My humble beginnings heralded from the rolling green and lush hillsides of Mid Wales, a place where home is peace and solitude, honest and forgiving.
Whilst leaving the comfort and serenity of the Montgomeryshire countryside to venture far and wide, I still enjoy returning to a place that taught me to respect nature, the wildlife and the natural order of the environment.
The seasons will change, the winds will blow, a late frost, a destructive gail will knock us gardeners from our determined stride! But we are made of stone or carved in wood, earth in-grained into our skin, often ruddy in complexion, our heart’s rosy red. We are generous and forgiving, we harvest the elements as our guide, the seasons as our influencer, in nature we trust, in gardens we grow.
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Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant
“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s
nothing less than paradise”
If you enjoy sharing photos from your Garden then follow Stephen Pryce-Lea AKA @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens.
iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.