10 with Tom Coward
My name is Tom Coward and I’m the head gardener at Gravetye Manor
The Arts or Horticulture, which do you feel most associated with?
I have worked as a gardener since I was 15 in various situations. My last job was assistant head gardener at Great Dixter before moving to Gravetye Manor nearly four years ago.
Can you recall your first gardening memory?
One of my first gardening jobs was for a rather rough but charming old man called Cornel Yule. He used to sit on a deck chair and bark commands as I worked, occasionally lashing out with his stick if I missed some weeds. At first he was a bit intimidating but he mellowed over time and I enjoyed it. He was a fascinating man.
Do you remember the first time you were captivated by a color?
I can’t say I do. The colors that really inspire me are in the landscape that’s always around me.
What garden public or private inspires you?
If left alone on an island and you could choose one plant and one piece of art, what would be your pick?
Can I take the Brighton Pavilion as my piece of art please? Is that too greedy? And I would fill the grounds with asparagus or fruit trees.
What would your dream project be?
The work I have been doing at Gravetye is a dream project come true. It is a charming, magical, historic old garden that had suffered a lot of decay. To have the opportunity to try to pull such a special place together again has been so exciting and rewarding.
What specific sources of creative outlets do you often turn to?
Other Gardeners and gardens.
Any last words of wisdom that you care to share with others?
I think the most important thing is to never forget the reason why we love working with plants so much and the pleasure that can be shared through growing them.