An interview with Alan Power
We caught up with Alan Power, the voice behind our gardens podcast, to find out more about the show and his work as Head Gardener at Stourhead in Wiltshire.
Have you spent your whole career at Stourhead?
I’ve been with the Trust for 19 years. I started as Gardener Arborist, so I came to climb the trees, and I just felt as if I’d arrived home. I was promoted to Assistant Head Gardener, and I spent three years doing that before going to Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland. Then the job of Head Gardener came up at Stourhead, so I came back. I’ve been here for ten years, but it doesn’t feel like it.
What’s it like living on the estate?
Waking up and going to sleep here is important to me. I stand at the back door with my cup of coffee in the morning and look out and see what the day ahead is going to give. I think when you work in an environment like this your work enriches your life in a special way. You really do give yourself to a place. On the back of that, I think you give yourself to the organisation you work for.
What’s so special about working in such a busy Trust garden?
Stourhead is one of the busiest Trust properties in the UK – we get nearly 400,000 visitors a year. People have a real love for this place and it can become part of a family’s history. Once I was in Somerset doing a talk and I met a couple who had been on their first date at Stourhead, 52 years ago to the day, and they had kept visiting throughout their life together. That’s why I work in a garden that’s open to the public – what we do gives people so much, and they take it away with them. I love the place, but I love what it does to people as well.
What is it like gardening for the Trust, and how is this different to other gardens?
The great thing about gardening for the National Trust is that we don’t work in isolation, only thinking about the gardens and the plants. We get to appreciate nature as a whole: we see where the garden meets the countryside, where lawns roll towards the sea, and how wildlife moves around between these different habitats. We also learn how to work with the sensitivities in the houses, the challenges on the wider estates and the need to generate income to help care for these special places.
Why did you want to present the podcast?
I feel really strongly about sharing the work we do with people and the podcast gives everyone another way to enjoy and understand our work. The staff and volunteers on our properties are often busy behind the scenes, and don’t get to meet as many people as they would like to, so it’s a way of introducing people to our teams and the work they do. There are so many hidden stories, treasures and tales to be told, and the podcast is a great way to tell them.