Meet The Horticulturists

Graeme Robinson

Graeme Robinson
Great Amwell Plant Area Manager & Horticulturalist

I caught the gardening bug at the age of around 9 or 10 when I realised the fun of planting seeds and watching them grow, a passion very much encouraged by my mother.

This developed into growing vegetables which then developed into selling the produce to neighbours and the retailer in me was born! After sixth form college and a saturday job helping on an alpine nursery, a three year HND commercial horticulture course at Writtle in Essex then saw me enter into the garden centre workplace, which has now been my office for over 25 years.

I love the seasonality of the job, leading the team and encouraging them to put over their passion for plants, a passion which has seen us being voted best Plantarea in the North Thames region for the last 3 years as well as winning the coveted Ruxley Rose Award for the best Plantarea in the UK in 2010/11.

Chris Wills

Chris Wills
Great Amwell Horticulturalist

Highly experienced Horticulturist and Gardener. I developed an interest in plants and nature at a very young age working with my father and grandmother in their gardens and vegetable patches.

On leaving school I attended Capel Manor Horticultural College for two years studying Horticulture and was also involved in a YTS scheme that saw myself working in a historical garden setting. After this time, at the age of 19, I started my first of two stints working for the Van Hage Garden Company where constant exposure to new plants and plant problems every day as well as being surrounded by knowledgeable horticultural experts was the perfect environment to develop my career.

After 4 years I moved on to new pastures and worked throughout North London and Hertfordshire in Landscape Maintenance, alongside my father. When my father retired, I decided that I would like to return to The Van Hage Garden Company, a place where I had been very happy and learnt so much before.

I returned to Van Hage in 1998 and have not looked back since. I have had times as resident expert in almost every section of the plant area, most notably the Climbers and Shrubs that I took care of for several years and currently I am indulging my love for Roses as I take care of the Rose Section in the Van Hage plant area.

For the last few years I has primarily been based in the Plant Information Centre, where I share my ever expanding knowledge and advice with Van Hage’s customers. I am a recognisable friendly face that many of Van Hage’s loyal customers look for on a regular basis.

Dianne Perryman
Great Amwell Horticulturalist

I applied for a job at my local garden centre not knowing much about plants but had a love for working outdoors as I previously worked with animals. I had to learn on the job, learning a lot from my colleagues who were horticulturalists giving advice to customers. The more I learnt the more I wanted to know and my enthusiasm grew.
After a few years I decided to do a course at Caple Manor studying Genral Certificate in Horticulture. I enjoy reading gardening books and magazines and watching gardening programs.
I enjoy the fact that plants grow and change with the seasons, some coming up year after year as plant life begins again in the spring. I love working with nature and the diversity of plants.
My favourite garden to visit would have to be Cambridge Botanical Gardens where they have great rockery gardens with a great range of plants giving you a variety of scents and textures. This garden is a perfect escape from the busy city life of Cambridge.