Chris Wiley

Ipswitch, Suffolk, UK

Chris Wiley is a man in touch with his mentors. Both his parents were agriculturalists, but he speaks of time spent with his grandparents as a child as the driving influence on his interest in flowers and vegetables. Suffolk is a place not short on green fingers, and he even shared his grandfather’s allotment as a schoolchild, which he describes as his ‘happy place’. Could one be more immersed in the greenery? Later, he was apprenticed to a local nursery specialising in rare and unusual plants and had his first taste of exhibitions, including the Chelsea Flower Show. The firm’s owner encouraged him to reach out to other organisations, which led to plant trials with a major seed firm, and finally to branching out on his own. He now runs the independent plant and product trials and grows his own plants for flower shows and seed production. The latest in his series of mentors was world-renowned gardening writer and broadcaster Peter Seabrook (of Gardener’s World fame). Such was his impact that upon Peter’s death in March, Chris continued his legacy, handing a posy of specially-bred Sweet Peas called ‘Peter Seabrook’ to the Queen, as Peter had done for many years prior. As Chris says, “it was only right to continue his tradition for one last time, in his memory and to say thank you.” The lesson here is to look for teachers wherever you can find them.

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Vegetable grower, natural beekeeper and edible spaces designer. Lover of all soil and urban farming techniques. Former head of growing at Incredible Aquagarden.