"You have my dream job," a woman said to me recently, "Words, flowers and books."
I'm a radio journalist by training, a Nature Girl 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 for Verde. I thought I was just growing flowers to sell. What I quickly realised is that flowers are at their most eloquent when language runs out - at wedding, funerals, christenings, memorials and when you've just had a really terrible day.
My first love was radio and for most of the 1990's I worked for BBC Radio 4, gathering stories and turning them into features (and one or two even won awards) and all the time I was gardening and growing. In the noughties I started garden writing too, and I can still remember the excitement of my first commission from 'Gardens Illustrated', a magazine I still love and work for regularly. That decade was all about balancing the needs of my young family with my desire for some adventure. I went to Iran to write about the annual rose petal harvest, the Caribbean island of Nevis where I found a garden on the side of a volcano, a vegetable market in Siberia where I interviewed growers who remembered the Communist Collective farms and a giant pumpkin festival in France full of improbably sized gourds and small yapping dogs.
In 2006 I was asked to chair an author event at the Hexham Book Festival, and although I was terrified, I'm not a woman who turns down an opportunity to talk about books. 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.