Garden experts uncovered: Andrew Mudge
Head Gardener, Cliveden
Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in our gardens? Here we talk to Andrew Mudge, who heads up the gardening team at Cliveden.
What do you do?
I’m a practical, hands on Head Gardener, leading a team of ten gardeners at Cliveden. We maintain and improve the extensive gardens here, including restoring landscape features such as the maze and the rose garden.
What are the best and worst things about your job?
The best bits are being out in the garden working with the team and talking to our lovely visitors. Worst but a necessity is the office work.
How did you first get interested in gardens?
I went to school on the edge of Dartmoor where gardening was taught as a subject. I also worked with my father and grandfather in their gardens and allotments.
What are the highlights of your career so far?
It has to be being nominated for and receiving the Royal Horticultural Society Associate of Honour.
What skills/qualifications do you need for this job?
A good understanding of the garden’s history and its evolution through successive owners. Having a clear vision of how and where the garden needs to develop and strong practical leadership of the large garden team are important. A broad range of practical skills, backed up with a good, high level horticultural qualification are essential.
What’s your most memorable recent garden visit?
I had the opportunity to visit internationally renowned garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith’s private garden and managed to see his prairie planting in all its glory.
What exciting projects are coming up?
The south terrace at Cliveden has been undergoing a major restoration which should be completed in 2017. This will give us the opportunity to replant and improve the garden around the terrace as well as the Duke’s Garden. The research and planning for this is underway now.
What’s your favourite plant and why?
That’s difficult, as I like so many but if I have to narrow it down to one it would be deciduous camellia (Stewartia pseudocamellia), a fantastic tree with beautiful white camellia-like flowers in the early summer, good autumn colour and attractive, mottled bark.
Any unfilled ambitions?
After leaving school I joined the Royal Navy and travelled widely. Having seen much of the world, the travel bug has stayed with me and I would love to visit China to see many of the plants which I grow here flourishing in their natural environment.