JOBS & CAREERS SPRING 2018 - 72
Toby Saunders, 53, is a maintenance foreman for Jamie Goddard
Designs, a garden design business in Harrogate, North Yorkshire
t school, when I was 15, I was
given the option of joining the
army cadets or doing gardening
in the village for old people. I chose the
latter! I really enjoyed it at the time,
but in terms of a career it is something
I fell into years later. I'd never really
found a career calling prior to that. I had
numerous jobs - in customer services, for
online marketing companies and for NHS
Direct working in the health information
department. But in all my previous jobs,
I eventually reached the point where I
thought, "I don't want to do this anymore."
When I started working for Jamie 12
years ago, I was a labourer. I began by
helping with hard landscaping - building
most of the time
is very meditative.
Sometimes all I can
hear is birdsong
7 2 /// J O B S & C A R E E R S
patios and walls - but my favourite part
was always the planting at the end of the
job. I had no horticultural qualifications
- I still don't! - but, after returning from
travelling in my 40s, I got a job in a garden
centre and then worked on an estate
outside Harrogate as the under gardener.
I learned on the job, with teaching from
experienced gardeners. With gardening,
you never stop gaining knowledge.
What I love most is being outside -
bad weather doesn't bother me. I've got
layers of waterproof clothing and, as I
say to my clients, underneath those I've
got waterproof skin! In most gardens,
there's somewhere to shelter and it's
only really cold if you stop moving.
I enjoy the physical side of the job - it
keeps me fit - and I love working with
nature. Working alone most of the time
is also very meditative and mindful.
Sometimes all I can hear is birdsong.
I usually visit three to five gardens in
a day, but it can be as many as seven or
eight, so my work environment is always
changing. Overall, I work in around
40 different gardens. You see the full
spectrum when you're outside all year and
the good days really do make up for the
bad. Summer can be great, but if it's really
hot it can be draining. My main summer
bugbear is horseflies - they give a nasty
bite. There are other risks to the job too
- I've cut the end of my finger off before.
Garden is an anagram of danger, after all!
Recently, I've had apprentices working
alongside me. I loved passing on my
knowledge to them, and both have gone
on to find jobs - one as a tree surgeon
and the other working on an estate.
I don't have ambitions to further my
career. I'm extremely happy as I am. If the
work ever becomes too physical as I get
older, working as a horticultural adviser or
designer could be an option. I've designed
and planted my own and friends' gardens.
In summer, with the longer evenings, I
love getting home to do my own garden.
It never feels like a busman's holiday.
As soon as I started working in
gardens it felt like the right thing to be
doing and I haven't looked back.
Find out more
* British Medical Association
* Grow Careers
* The Football Association