Before gardening

If I said it was a difficult decision to leave the law, I would be fibbing. In many ways it left me. When the law and I first parted, I felt broken-hearted. I felt resentment and rejection. I had given it everything. My evenings, my weekends, my trust. It selfishly took took took, then dumped me as if all those long hours together had meant nothing.

I did what came naturally after a break-up. I cried into my pillow and tried to pretend I didn’t care, whilst trying to snatch glimpses of what the law had been up to lately. I jealously checked out if it was pursuing some new young paralegal types with promises of training contracts, like it had done with me. I wondered if somehow I had done something to warrant the loss in interest. Had I become too expensive by qualifying?
I kept wondering if the law would realise it had made a big mistake and invite me back. However, December 2009 was not a good time to be looking for a newly qualified solicitor position. Eventually I let the law go. We still catch up now and again and we have remained good friends, but I have moved on.
I started a new job. Though looking back, I was probably on the rebound. The rebound job has been good for me. It has been interesting and I have had some fun times, but there just isn’t that spark.

How I got started

Back when I was practising law, I had a brief dalliance with gardening. I had taken some time off work to help look after my Dad, who had become very poorly.

In the previous year, I had bought a gift that I ended up keeping for myself. It was a pouch of compost with some chilli seeds – Demon Reds. I planted the seeds, added water and I was stunned when the seeds produced three dwarf chilli plants with a huge yield. I was hooked. I bought more seeds in preparation for the following spring.

During the brief spell I was off work, I gingerly started gardening, unsure of what I was doing. My brother bought me a book on how to grow herbs. I started with coriander, parsley and basil with great success. I quickly got carried away.  I grew as much as I could in containers and found some space in a newly dug border. I found myself
becoming totally absorbed in the activity of gardening – a great way to work through my thoughts or to simply escape for a couple of hours at a time.

I recall my aunt visiting and listening as I intently explained my gardening activities. She said then that I would end up giving up law to pursue this new interest. I dismissed it as ridiculous. Not because I didn’t want to do it, but because I had not considered it as a realistic option.

The decision

A couple of years on, we return to the present day. So what led me to pursue a career in horticulture? Two months ago, my rebound job description changed overnight into something I did not enjoy. I wanted to leave. The decision clincher was a discussion with my family. They saw how miserable I felt about work and offered their full support if I chose to pursue my interest in gardening.


Within a week I had applied to Merrist Wood College for a place on its Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Horticulture and had handed my resignation letter to my boss. It was a seven day whirlwind of activity as I researched the different courses available and consulted the Royal Horticultural Society and Kew Gardens for their advice. Via twitter I was able to seek guidance from Kate Bradbury (@kate_bradbury) of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine (http://blog.gardenersworld.com/). They were all generous with their advice and enthusiastic about my change in direction. I managed to submit my application to Merrist Wood College just in time to squeeze in an interview with a tutor before he left for the summer holidays.

Follow my change in career

I cannot say exactly where this horticulture course will lead me just yet, but I am certain at the very least I am heading in the right direction. Though it might not be a clear path to a precise vocation, I do have ideas and plans I wish to explore. I will forage around and see what I discover. I hope to have reached my horticultural destination by the end of my ramble.
Keep track of my garden ramble towards a career in horticulture here on this blog.

18 thoughts on “About

  1. Kate

    Very best of luck with your change. I left the law and went into public affairs/government relations. Then left to run my smallholding and now write too.

    I hope you’ll find it a fulfilling and enjoyable adventure. There are stresses and pressures as with everything. But doing something you love and which is in tune with your values is a much better way of being.

    I look forward to reading about your adventure.


    • Hi Carl

      Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve seen some of your recent videos of your smallholding – very inspiring and beautiful.

      At the moment I’m finding it difficult to temper my enthusiasm for the change in direction, but I will aim to give an honest account (and hopefully entertaining too) of my experiences. You’ve really hit the nail on the head above. Too true.


  2. Well you are further on than me re-blogs etc. I’m having to get tutoring. Well done for the career change. I know the feeling well. It’s scary and exciting and liberating!

  3. Lovely first post. You’ve got so much excitement to come now, working out which areas interest you the most and which bits you’re not so keen on. Looking forward to reading more updates.

    K x

  4. Wow!! Awesome blog! You have SO made the right decision and you won’t regret it. Looking forward to hearing more…

    Gibson x

  5. V. inspiring Kate!

    I’m considering my third career change, this time into full time truffle cultivation. We already have a small plot under truffles and we will soon do a small test to see it will be fruitfull! If it is then there’s no stopping us!
    Will be keeping a close eye on your blog and will even be looking for a few tips – especially on the technical side!

    Good luck with your ventures!

    Dan. x

    • Thanks Dan. Whereabouts are you doing that? Or is it somewhere called ‘Location X’? It sounds pretty specialised. I’ll be sure to share anything that might be useful with you. Hey, if you sort out the truffles and I the saffron, we’ll be able to retire early.

  6. Well done you for making the jump. I shall be reading your posts with great anticipation as I also hope one day to make gardening a full time occupation.
    I took the RHS L2 and that was mega hard so can’t imagine what the L3 will be like. Saying that as a Law graduate I can’t imagine it would be anywhere near as hard a slog for you! All the best to you.

    • Hi Sophie

      Thanks. I hope to provide an update at least once a fortnight of the edited highlights. I heard the RHS level 2 exam is pretty tricky. Are you tempted by the level 3?

      The course I am studying is a bit different in that it is 60:40 practical and theory and is full-time, though it is available part-time too. I was really caught between choosing the RHS level 2 or going for a full-time National Certificate BTEC level 3 in Horticulture course. Ultimately, I wanted to get my hands dirty and balance learning a broad base of horticultural skills and classroom study of science and botany with garden design and plant machinery thrown into the mix. Then a business management module to aid the application of what we learn into a commercial context.

      Saying all that, I’ve just left my folder of course documents in the ladies toilets at college. Happy to say I never lost a folder as a lawyer. Not the best start as a student horticulturalist. Let’s hope an Animal Welfare student hasn’t shredded it into bedding for the weasel cage.

  7. Hi Kate – Just checking up on how you are doing – You are sadly missed at Merrist Wood, though it is fabulous to hear of your successes. Keep in touch

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