Joshua Tranter on attention to detail and his passion for alpines
As gardener for John Massey of Ashwood Nurseries, Joshua values attention to detail and has developed his passion for alpines. Portrait Jason Ingram
My earliest gardening memories are from spending weekends at my Nan’s house. I would help her with jobs, such as growing vegetables and general garden maintenance. The highlight was always picking the veg, which Nan would then add to a delicious Sunday lunch.
I’m lucky to work for one of my horticultural heroes – John has taught me a huge amount in the four years I have worked for him. His attention to detail is at the highest level, nothing escapes his eagle eye. He’s a master of pruning trees and raising tree canopies to create more planting opportunities. He’s also a skilled alpine grower and a world-renowned hepatica grower. I hope one day to be able to pass on my knowledge to other up-and-coming horticulturists.
I love visiting gardens and find it difficult to pick out a favourite, but one that really stands out is Wildside in Devon. Keith Wiley has created an outstanding garden from a totally blank canvas. His planting combinations are clever and his vision is ambitious, always with wildlife and sustainability in mind. I go home filled with ideas and inspiration after each visit.
After studying horticulture at college, I completed an apprenticeship at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This taught me important practical skills, while working in a large garden helped me to gain experience with lots of different plant types. This is where I discovered my passion for alpines. Apprenticeships offer a vital source of practical skills training, which is just as important as theory work.
My favourite planting style is a mixed border. I love to see the structures of trees and shrubs mixed into a herbaceous border. It’s nice to see evergreens used to retain some interest in the border through winter.
Two books I use on a regular basis for sourcing information are the Alpine Garden Society’s Encyclopedia of Alpines and The Hillier Manual of Trees & Shrubs.
My passion for alpines means I would like to spend more time studying them and travelling to see plants in their natural habitats. I’m also particularly keen on growing cyclamen (as you’ll see from my Instagram posts). What really got me hooked on them is the endless leaf variations… then you have the added bonus of the lovely flowers. What’s not to like about them? I have showed at a few cyclamen shows and hope to show more in future, as well as try some cyclamen breeding.
For details on how to visit John Massey’s private garden go to ashwoodnurseries.com/visit-us/johns-garden
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