Tom Freeman

I finally made plans for my departure into a career that would not only be something completely different, but also infinitely more rewarding

My horticultural career started relatively late having spent the majority of my working life (11 years to be precise) commuting to London and working in investment banking. Having been unhappy for a number of years sitting behind a desk all day, I came to the realisation that there has to be more to life than this. I finally made plans for my departure into a career that would not only be something completely different, but also infinitely more rewarding.

My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) took a year to save as much money as we could and then we quit our jobs and get away for six months. This gave me the much needed time away from the stress and office life to realise what I really had a passion for so I decided to retrain and try to get into horticulture. This was a natural and sensible choice for me as I grew up on a farm in the Essex countryside so I have been used to the outdoor life and living closer to nature. I also had a huge passion for gardens and plants growing up, looking after my own gardens and those at the farm as well.

So at the ripe old age of 30 I got a job as a landscape gardener and enrolled at Writtle College to get my RHS Level 2 diploma in Horticulture. I then spent a further year studying at Hadlow College to get my RHS Level 3 qualification as well. During this year at Hadlow, I started at RHS Garden Hyde Hall on a contract and after a few months, managed to progress to a full-time Horticulturist position.

Now, I manage the Clover Hill area which includes 13 volunteers. I am also in charge of the new ‘Big Sky Meadow’ project which is a huge 7,400 m² perennial meadow featuring perennials and grasses from Europe, North America and South Africa. This forms the first stage of a 10 stage project to convert areas of the wider estate (96,000 m²) into pictorial meadows. I am also involved in the plant selection, planning and implementation of Hyde Hall’s new Winter Garden which is due to open in 2017.

Tom's posts and conversations

  • Hyde Hall’s autumn showstoppers

    Working outside all year round, you get to intimately know and feel the seasons as they come an

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  • Grasses for all seasons

    As we rapidly approach autumn, summer flowering perennials start to fade, however this is the t

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  • The sky's the limit for our new plantings

    An exciting ongoing project to create a perennial meadow that is as ambitious as it is big

    Read more

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.