Angela Simpson turned her passion into a profession
Despite having a well-paid office job in Cambridge, HBGBS trainee Angela Simpson’s eureka moment was when she realised she could turn her gardening hobby into her profession. Read about Angela’s journey below:
What made you choose horticulture?
Where to begin? So many things…I come from a long line of fabulous gardeners and spent most of my childhood outside; my favourite place to be for as long as I can remember. It was never malls and shopping for me but hiking, swimming and camping.
I got a Bachelor of Science at Uni in Politics and Journalism and ended up in very well-paid office in Cambridge, England. Throughout this time gardening was a beloved hobby and therapeutic outlet for me. I have a beautiful garden and I have kept an allotment for several years. Every spare moment was spent reading gardening books or visiting gardens. After 10 years of struggle and stress in a high pressure office a light bulb went off in my head; why can’t I garden professionally? The money I made did not provide happiness for me; my allotment and garden did.
I packed in the office job and gained my National Certificate in Horticulture in one year, with Distinction. I never thought I could love schooling so much! Classes that involve driving a tractor, propagating plants, learning botanical names, plant diseases and cures, etc…are you kidding? I was in heaven. How wonderful to change your life so dramatically and find such happiness and satisfaction from it. My passion continues to grow and I know I have much to learn, another aspect of horticulture I enjoy, the learning never stops. I was privileged to be given a placement by the Historic & Botanic Gardening Bursary Scheme in Hampton Court Palace this year and the knowledge I have gained has been immense but it cannot top the joy I continue to get by going to ‘work’ in a garden and studying horticulture everyday.
What do you enjoy most in your daily routine?
My surroundings and going outside to work. It doesn’t matter how tired or worn out I feel in the morning as soon I step outside into the gardens I feel fantastic. I stop regularly to look around at the gardens and think ‘I can’t believe I am working in this amazing place’; I feel very proud to be a part of it.
What do you dislike the most?
There is a danger aspect to gardening; strimmers, tractors, chainsaws, mowers, pesticide use… I know Health & Safety and Risk Assessments are a huge part of horticulture now but I do get nervous every time I use a piece of machinery; although that being said there is nothing like using a riding mower on nice sunny summer days!
Where do you think you will be in 5 years time?
I am still new to the scene but very much enjoy the beauty of Historic gardens so I like to envisage myself still working in a place like Hampton Court Palace, National Trust, English Heritage or something similar. I do think my previous management experience, although in an office, is still valuable and could be helpful in my horticulture career as well.