Here at QVC we have hundreds of guests join us to share their knowledge, passion and expertise on each product we offer. They have an incredible amount of experience, from styling the stars to starting their own concept from scratch. Thompson & Morgan‘s guest Michael Perry has an intriguing job to say the least: a plant hunter.
We caught up with Michael to see how the self-named ‘ultimate plant geek’ got into gardening, what his job entails, and we even got to see some of his best snaps from his Chelsea Flower Show visit a few weeks ago!
When did your love of gardening first start?
With my grandparents! I spent a lot of time with them as a kid and they were always growing lots of plants to exhibit at local flower shows and to sell at markets. I soon had a vegetable patch in my parents’ garden, and slowly took over the whole garden, eventually selling plants at markets too, even as a teenager!
How did you learn about the role you’re in now?
It was almost by chance! I entered a competition to design a garden at Thompson & Morgan and won the competition. I then wrote in afterwards basically asking for a job. They liked my initiative and I was trained up through various parts of the company, always maintaining a focus on new plants – which is still a major part of my role today!
What does your role involve?
I am the New Product Development Manager, so I travel around Europe talking to growers, breeders and developers about new plants suitable for UK gardens. It’s not always about new breeding, but sometimes different ways of innovating with plants we already know. I love it, it really plays to my skills. In more recent years, my love of plants and the plants I create, has led me to be the best person selling plants for Thompson & Morgan on QVC too!
What’s the best thing about your job?
Being in contact with plants, being able to innovate, throw new ideas around, and help gardeners in the UK discover new plants – ones that will perform better than some of the oldies!
What excites you about finding new plants?
I am always trying to find plants that make gardening easier for gardeners, whether this means it flowers longer, is more disease resistant, or has a better colour, then I’m keen to get them launched and available for the public!
Where’s your favourite place you’ve visited with work?
It was quite unusual visiting a geranium nursery not far from the Gaza strip in Israel!
Other than that, I’ve been lucky enough to visit some world-class delphinium breeding centres in New Zealand whilst I was travelling. I also love spending the summer driving around the Netherlands and Germany to get behind the scenes with plant breeders in order to find all of the latest in the world of plants!
Which public garden do you love to visit in the UK for plants?
There are so many, but for learning about plants and how they help our day to day life, it has to the Eden Project. It is awe-inspiring and constantly evolving – an Instagrammers dream!
Which plants would you recommend QVC fans to add to their gardens?
This season, we have a new berry on the block: the fuchsia berry! It’s so unique, nobody has ever heard of eating their fuchsia berries before! They are tasty and vitamin rich – think of a cherry without the stone!
We can’t wait for the fuchsia berry it sounds delicious and great for you too, which is never a bad thing!
Of course, we couldn’t let Michael go without asking him about the Chelsea Flower Show. They say a picture says a thousand words, so take a look at Michael’s favourite snaps from the fantastic event:
See our full range of plants and gardening products online here