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Rose­mary Alexan­der’s ca­reer be­gan with land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture. She now not only de­signs gar­dens but also works as an author and speaker. She is the founder and prin­ci­pal of the worl­drenowned English Gar­den­ing School in the Chelsea Physic Gar­den. “I am quite or­gan­ised and try to spend the week­ends gar­den­ing in my own gar­den, Sand­hill Farm­house in Ro­gate, which gives me think­ing time and keeps me grounded,” she says.

Trav­el­ling to un­ex­pected places and spend­ing time with peo­ple who live there is a high­light of her mul­ti­fac­eted work. “Gar­den de­sign is a great ca­reer with won­der­ful peo­ple but not well paid un­less you make it to the top,” she says. “A lot de­pends on where you are based and your po­ten­tial clien­tele.

“Part-time vol­un­teer­ing in a gar­den with a good head gar­dener is of­ten a good way to start. Hor­ti­cul­ture is not yet seen as a ‘cool’ ca­reer op­tion. But there are many dif­fer­ent open­ings un­der the hor­ti­cul­tural ban­ner, not just reg­u­lar gar­den­ing. Our courses at the English Gar­den­ing School re­quire a cer­tain amount of ded­i­ca­tion and hard work. Our stu­dents now seem to want in­ten­sive courses over a shorter pe­riod of time. Many have al­ready had in­ter­est­ing ca­reers, done some of the RHS ex­ams but need more de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence and an un­der­stand­ing of plant pref­er­ences.

“Stu­dents now come from un­ex­pected places, such as South Korea and Ukraine. The most im­por­tant skills they need are to be able to visu­alise the po­ten­tial of an out­door space and to know their plants and how they grow.”

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