An Interview with RHS Horticulturist, Peter Adams

Our latest inspiration interview brings us to beautiful North Devon where we chat with Peter Adams, Horticulturist and Team Leader at RHS Rosemoor.

After moving from this home county of Yorkshire to Cornwall at the age of 12, Peter began growing his own vegetables on a small patch of ground at his parents home - sparking his passion for gardening.

Peter Adams

Where does your passion for gardening originate?

At the age of 12 I moved with my parents to Cornwall, leaving our home county of Yorkshire behind. My end of the deal was if I was to move, I wanted a spot of ground to have a veg patch to grow some bits I could sell on the roadside. Clearly my parents felt this was an easy win and agreed, and this is where my passion for gardening began. From here it flourished and grew, and by the age of 16, I was set on a career in horticulture. At the time the career advisor at my school couldn’t understand why, but I ignored them, quite rightly and forged my career in horticulture, going to college, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture followed by a scholarship at Tresco Abbey Gardens. I then completed a year’s traineeship with RHS at Rosemoor, which quickly turned into a permanent job, and here I stand today as the Team Leader for Edibles and Nursery.

Does your family share your love of gardening?

My earliest memory of gardening was my dad always turning over the garden in front of our farmhouse and sowing and growing lots of veg. This must have sparked something in me as I always remember trying to lend a hand, and pottering about. My Dad has continued to dibble and dabble in veg gardening, and after many years my mum has finally found her green fingers, after always saying it had skipped a generation.

Kitchen Garden at RHS RosemoorKitchen Garden at RHS Rosemoor

Who has influenced you the most in your career?

At the age of 15 it was time for me to complete my school work experience which naturally I wanted to do at a garden. It was here that I met the head gardener of a Cornish garden, who obviously saw something in me as I continued to work with him for several years after, up until leaving college and entering the world of full time employment. He inspired and influenced me as a horticulturalist, encouraged me, steered and guided me, and today we still bounce thoughts and ideas off of one another.

How long has Rosemoor been open to the public?

Rosemoor was gifted to the RHS in 1988, but officially opened to the public as an RHS Garden on the 1st June 1990. Since then Rosemoor has continued to flourish and expand, further enhanced by its woodlands and surroundings.

RHS RosemoorRHS Rosemoor 

What does a typical day look like at Rosemoor?

I am not sure there is truly such a thing as a typical day at Rosemoor, our job roles are so varied, especially in the fruit and vegetable garden. We start our day at 7.45am, with a plan for the day ahead, after a quick meeting we head to our areas. In the veg garden it is rare to be on the same task all day, that’s what makes it so much fun. During the spring and early summer there is often lots of sowing and planting, followed in the summer and autumn by lots of picking and pruning, and winter is where all the planning goes in, it’s all in the preparation.

Do you have a favourite part of your garden and why?

I have to be biased with this question, fruit and veg is my thing, and as such the veg garden has to be my favourite. It is here that my team and I showcase fruit and vegetable growing to our visitors - giving them ideas and inspiration, and showing off as many different varieties of veg as we possibly can with lots of different growing techniques.

Agriframes Elegance Crop Cage at RHS RosemoorAgriframes Elegance Crop Cage at RHS Rosemoor

Are there any particularly challenging spots?

This is a good question, Rosemoor is one huge challenging spot. Situated at the bottom of a North Devon valley we sit in a natural frost pocket, when the cold winter air roles down the hillsides and sits in the valley bottom, and the river Torridge that flows through the valley bottom seems to pull the cold air along with it. North Devon is naturally a very green and flourishing area, because it rains a lot here, and Rosemoor gets its fair share of that rain. Combine that with our clay subsoils, it can become challenging during the winter, but it does have its upside - in hot summers the clay holds the water for longer, and is far richer in nutrients than lighter soils, helping our plants prosper.

Are there any changes to the garden for this year’s openings?

This is a particularly odd year, whilst it hasn’t been overly cold, we have had a lot of overcast and damp days this spring, which has held back a lot of our plants, especially in the veg garden. We are about 2 to 3 weeks behind, but not to worry, gardens have a habit of catching up.

RHS RosemoorRHS Rosemoor

What three pieces of advice would you give to a gardener starting out?

1. Patience, gardening isn’t a race, plants will do their own thing in their own time.
2. Don’t try to do too much too quickly, it is always better to do a few things well rather than lots of things badly. This way you won’t be disappointed, you will learn and be better prepared for the next step in your gardening journey.
3. Make time to enjoy what you achieve in gardening, after all, that's what it's all about.

Which other gardeners and gardens do you admire?

West Dean in West Sussex is a favourite of mine, I love their collection of Victorian glasshouse and the collections they hold inside them, though I don’t envy their job of maintaining them. Their traditional walled garden is something to behold, filled with both ornamentals and edibles. I am always impressed by the wonderful collection of trained fruit, both on the walls and on various shaped training formers.

Agriframes Elegance Crop CageAgriframes Elegance Crop Cage at RHS Rosemoor