Mark Dumbleton

Head gardener at Hauser and Wirth Mark Dumbleton

As head gardener at Hauser and Wirth Somerset, Mark Dumbleton cares for the Piet Oudolf designed perennial meadow and garden. Portrait Andrew Montgomery

Earliest gardening memory My grandad owned an orchid nursery and my dad was a gardener. I can remember wandering through acres of warm, humid greenhouses full of beautiful orchids and hiding away in corners of gardens so as not to have to push lawn mowers.

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Echinops bannaticus

First plant love If I had to pick one then it would be trees as I feel they are the pinnacle of evolution but I genuinely love all plant life. I admire the way in which plants improve their surrounding environment rather than destroy it.

Who has influenced your horticultural career I’m grateful to anyone who has taken the time to share their knowledge with me. I love working with people like Piet and Anja Oudolf. Piet’s individual style of design is based on years of hard work, observing and growing plants. I’ve met very few people with a similar level of knowledge as Piet.

Most valuable training I don’t have any formal horticultural training but I need to know how things work. Upon leaving school I studied and worked as an engineer. The scientific principles and working methods I acquired during this time have proved invaluable. Complex systems and problems can always be broken down to smaller more understandable parts.

Useful tip for every gardener Understand how soil works – it’s probably going to be the cause of most problems you will experience as a gardener.

How to be more sustainable Grow as much of your own food as possible; you never know when you might really need it.

What about the future of horticulture? I would like to see it heading into schools to be taught to our children. Plants provide us with the air we breathe, the food we eat and all the medicines we need. I think they deserve a little more than the standard one-hour lesson on photosynthesis. It may be worthwhile also spending a little time on the soil ecosystem that exists beneath our feet without which life as we know it would cease to exist.

What the next big project in the garden Cutting down 35,000 herbaceous perennials here in the Oudolf Field at Hauser & Wirth. Based on the ‘no shortcuts idea’, I use secateurs. This gives me the opportunity to check the health of each plant and accurately cut it back to the ideal height. This is time consuming but, in the long run, results in a healthier plant that requires less division.

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Further information Hauser and Wirth Somerset. hauserwirth.com