Where are you from?
Born and bred in Leicestershire. My childhood was mostly spent on a pony. Coming to London as a child was a very special treat indeed and I had to put a suit on!
Where do you live now?
In a charming tiny, isolated village nestling at the foot of the Downs near Newbury, Berkshire
Can you tell me about your family?
I am married (well above my humble station) to Rose who has produced two wonderful children, Toby (26) and Lucy (25) both living in London and thankfully gainfully employed in jobs that they absolutely adore (life is too short to work at something one doesn’t thoroughly enjoy). In addition we have a black labrador, Willa and two very naughty Norfolk terriers, Ruby & Molly (mother & daughter). I am overwhelmed by girls!
What started your passion/interest in gardening?
I have an all-consuming love of the countryside having been fortunate enough to grow up in the middle of nowhere, with majestic views and a beautiful garden lovingly tended by my mother who was passionate gardener. It rubbed off. Then in 2008 I was incredibly fortunate in that I was able to buy De Jager with all its history – being then 140 years old (our 150th anniversary in 2018!) – and being the premier UK garden flower bulb supplier specialising in top quality, top size bulbs. The ultimate accolade was in 2013 when we were extremely honoured to be granted a Royal Warrant by HRH The Prince of Wales.
What is your favourite plant and why?
In terms of shrubs it has got to be rhododendrons as my childhood home had a simply magnificent display featuring every colour under the sun. I also simply love sweet peas as they a quintessentially English Cottage Garden and smell glorious. Additionally tulips are right at the top of my list as they provide bursts of so many different colours and shapes and herald the end of spring and start of summer. This tulip collection is a wonderful mix of colour also.
Describe your ideal garden:
A classic cottage garden combined with a comprehensive spring garden featuring swathes of different bulbs predominantly planted in grassland and under trees.
Where is the ‘best’ garden you have ever seen?
The garden at Arley Hall in Cheshire with its magnificent and world famous herbaceous border and stunning walled garden. I was fortunate enough to spend two days there at a QVC customer event, otherwise I possibly would never have seen it. Also the gardens at Buckingham Palace are very special indeed which I was lucky enough to see as part of a Royal Warrant Holder’s event
Apart from gardening what are your interests and hobbies?
When I’m not at QVC I like sleeping! In addition to this I love everything that is done outdoors – pottering in the garden, walking, bird watching, horse racing (too old for horse riding) etc.. I also really enjoy making and mending things and have a fully-equipped workshop. I am also passionate about the Highlands of Scotland – the wilder the better. When indoors I’m never happier than being curled up in front of a log fire with a really good book (nothing too serious!). Every year for the past 37 years I have ridden the Cresta Run in Switzerland (a ¾ mile ice slide where you go down head first on a steel toboggan at up to 80mph). There is a board with just 11 names on it of those over the age of 70 who have ridden and another board with just two names on it of those who rode at the age of 80. I fully intend for by name to be on both boards!
Who is the most memorable/famous person you have ever met?
I was fortunate enough to sit next to the late Queen Mother at lunch. She was wonderful company and very amusing.
Describe your perfect holiday:
Anywhere in Italy in the company of close friends laughing and eating mountains of pasta outside in the sun.
How would you describe working at QVC?
Exciting, invigorating and enormous fun (otherwise I wouldn’t have stuck around for 8 years to date!)
What makes you most happy?
My family and friends… and good food!
If you had to write your own epitaph, what would you say?
“They told me not to do it!”
What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
To own the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup (but that’s highly improbable). or otherwise to tour New Zealand with all its magnificent scenery and fauna & flora. I also wouldn’t mind being the longest-serving QVC guest presenter but then I might be well past my ‘sell-by’ date.
My favourite plants that George has told me about, of late, and ones that I have ordered are the Fritillaria, and check out more beautiful bulbs and plants on George’s section of the web.