Ric Glenn Head Gardener
With all eyes on Chelsea for both Chelsea in Bloom and the Chelsea Flower Show this spring, the Cadogan Estate’s gardeners have to work extra hard to impress. Ric Glenn, head gardener at Cadogan, tells us about his passion for horticulture, Chelsea’s tropical surprises and some common ground with last year’s winner at the Chelsea Flower Show.
How long have you been gardening? I’ve been at Cadogan for about a year now, following the retirement of Nick Barwick, who had done the job for over 25 years, and before that I was head gardener at Dulwich Park. I grew up on a propagation nursery in Australia. My father, David Glenn, owns Lambley Nursery in Australia and is one of the gardening gurus there, so I learned to value plants at a very young age. I worked in the Botanic Gardens in Denmark for five years and went on to do my horticultural studies there. Probably my proudest achievement, aside from joining Cadogan, is getting my horticultural diploma in Danish, and topping the averages for that year. I also did a stint at Kew Gardens before I joined Dulwich.
What’s the best thing about your job? There are over a dozen gardens, covering more than 15 acres, across the whole estate and my team and I take pride in looking after them. The gardens we create and care for really have a positive effect on our residents. They get something from it and it helps them survive in a city – I like making people happy. What I also love about it is that it is never-ending; I’ll never know it all. I’m always learning.
What can we look out for in spring? I don’t do favourite plants – it’s not fair to all the others – but I’m planting some Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' in the Cadogan Place North Garden soon – it’s stunning. Another one is Welsh poppy ‘Meconopsis cambrica folia’ and the geranium ‘Tanya Rendall’. When that comes into flower, it will carry on right through till Christmas. Also look out for the memorial meadow in Cadogan Place North Garden. That was my first big idea since joining.
What are your gardening tips? My biggest gardening tip is don’t use pesticides; I never do. If a plant struggles with pests, consider another plant. Pesticides are used less and less in the industry and a true professional knows that you don’t need to use them, because the range of plants that you can select from is huge.
Are there any surprises you can tell us about in the gardens? We have a 30ft avocado tree in one of the gardens down King’s Road, which I think is pretty astounding! We have a microclimate here in Chelsea, which means it’s easier to grow plants used to warmer climates.
Wow! Does that mean we’ll be enjoying some home-grown guacamole soon, then? I’d be very surprised if it gave fruit! But who knows? We do get fruit in the gardens, though. There are two beautiful old mulberry trees in the Cadogan Place South Garden, and they’re smothered in fruit in season. I tend to breakfast on it on my way in every morning – they’re so delicious.
Will you be at the Chelsea Flower Show? I go to the Chelsea Flower Show every chance I get. Funnily enough, the winning design last year [Trailfinders Australian Garden] was designed by a young man from Olinda, the village I’m from in Australia. Olinda is a horticultural centre, but it’s a very tiny village, so for two people to be in Chelsea is really interesting. It’s a wonderful show; it’s very exciting and I get a lot of ideas and inspiration from it. Chelsea becomes the centre of the horticultural world for that week. All those routes down to the show from the Tube are very important and the focus is really on us, so we really want the whole estate looking superb.
|The memorial meadow in Cadogan Place North Garden|
Courtesy of SLOANE SQUARE produced for Cadogan by Publishing Business, London