Helen studied for a Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture from 1998 to 2000 and is now a Senior Horticultural Advisor for the RHS
My introduction to horticulture came on a family holiday when I was given a kit with a plastic rack and test tubes for rooting cuttings. They rooted well and I ended up with a bedroom full of plants.
After studying history at York University, I applied to Askham Bryan Agricultural/Horticultural College to study for the National Certificate in Horticulture. This practical one-year course provided me with an excellent grounding in the basic skills and science of horticulture. Next followed a placement on the two-year Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture.
I chose cut-flower gardening for my dissertation subject and visited Sarah Raven’s cutting garden to take photographs and follow the process of the industry. I was awarded a National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) prize, and put the money, together with an RHS Bursary, towards a trip to the eastern states of North America visiting cut-flower farms.
Towards the end of the course, I had an opportunity to spend a Sunday in the RHS Gardening Advice kiosk answering members’ enquiries, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Not long after I left Wisley, I returned to fill a maternity cover vacancy in RHS Gardening Advice. I loved it so much that when a permanent position came up, I applied and have worked here ever since.
Helen says, “I can’t quite believe that it’s been 20 years since I joined the RHS Science and Advisory team. The work is so varied and has opened doors I never imagined. It’s an exciting time to be part of such a strong team. We are well placed to support gardeners as they begin to understand the power of gardening to mitigate the environmental challenges facing our generation, and embrace the wildlife that we share our spaces with.”
Read about what Helen is doing now at the RHS