"You have my dream job," a recent client said to me "Words, flowers and books."
I'm a journalist by training, a lover of the natural world by temperament and a storyteller by instinct and although my working life, written down on the page, looks disparate, I can see now that it's all been one long apprenticeship.
The 1990's were all about radio. I racketed about the north of England for BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme and made features for ‘Woman’s Hour’, ‘Costing the Earth’ and ‘File on Four’.
In the noughties, I left the BBC but carried on making features for Radio 4, Radio 3 and the World Service as an independent, simultaneously indulging my love of gardens by writing for magazines including ‘Gardens Illustrated’, ‘House & Garden’ and ‘The English Garden.' That decade was all about balancing the needs of my young family with my desire for some adventure, which I found visiting Iran during the annual rose petal harvest, the Caribbean island of Nevis where I found a garden on the side of a volcano and a giant pumpkin festival in France full of improbably sized gourds and small yapping dogs.
Journalists have a notoriously short attention span, so when an invitation came to interview Margaret Drabble at the Hexham Book festival I took it, and found I really liked the slightly nail-biting experience. Since then I've interviewed most of my literary crushes at book festivals from Durham to Adelaide, with my literature fix supplied by running a monthly book group in a Victorian pub in Newcastle upon Tyne, reading novels and non-fiction from across the world, both obscure and sublime, and frequently both.
And throughout this I've always grown flowers, mainly on my allotment, but in my small garden too so when an opportunity came up to grow them commercially, I thought "Why not?" and Verde Flowers was born.
It's lots of hard work, and flowers are just as temperamental as people, but yes, it's my dream job.