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.”