I live in Stockwell – an unprepossessing area of South London, which most people pass through en route to somewhere else, but to me it is home. As I suspect you already know, I am passionate about nature and our environment…perhaps partially inspired through osmosis from my parents and via the soil in my garden, whilst I tend my bees and plants. I love my small patch of ground – an oasis away from the pollution, pace and pettiness out in the streets and office. I am sitting in the garden now, listening to a blackbird, perched on our neighbour’s chimney pot singing about its place in the world (as indeed am I in this blog). One of my mother’s lasting memories after my birth (she had a particularly gruelling time bringing me into the world, even though I only weighed 2.8lbs) is of a blackbird singing its heart out from a chimney pot, whilst she lay exhausted in bed, in what is now a defunct maternity hospital, less than 5 minutes walk from my current home. Perhaps this blackbird is a descendent of the one she listened to. The connection and continuity appeals to me.
Part of the reason for my comment about osmosis is that my house is on land close to the original site of John Tradescant the Elder’s botanical garden. Tradescant, an English naturalist, gardener, collector and traveller, was an amazing man and can be credited as the father of modern English gardening, specialising in the garnering and nurturing of unusual plants. He commenced his career as Head Gardener to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, and created the celebrated garden at Hatfield House (the place where Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood) and eventually was retained by the King as “Keeper of his Majesty’s Gardens, Vines, and Silkworms”.
In 1610/11 Cecil sent Tradescant to the Low Countries to select
fruit trees and Tradescant returned with trees, plants and bulbs never before
seen in England. This was the start of his life as a botanical pioneer. He and his
Tradescant the Younger) travelled abroad, as well as requesting others to
collect specimens, to add to his collection.
Tradescant assembled a miscellany of curiosities (of natural history and
ethnography), which he housed in “The Ark” – his home in Lambeth. This amalgamation of rare and unusual natural
and man-made objects established what was the first English museum to be open
to the public, the Musaeum Tradescantianum and demonstrates Tradescant’s
passion for learning and his altruism towards his fellow men and the world
around him. After Tradescant’s death, the collection was acquired by Elias
Ashmole and he bequeathed it to Oxford University as the nucleus of the Ashmolean Museum, the
world’s first university museum. I love seats of learning.
|Hatfield House, Knot Garden|
|John Tradescant the Elder |
(portrait attributed to Cornelis de Neve)
|Entrance Hall and stairs leading to galleries|
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
- Tim Bellis, and Mark de Rond – both inspirational speakers and men I am humbled to call my friends;
- Stacey Clifford and Hannah Winchester of Judge – without whom the seamless coordination of the event could not have happened;
- Des Woods of the Moeller PSF Group (who can bring case studies to life like no other I know);
- David Goddin and David D’Souza who really brought home the power of coaching, encouraged all to participate, and who demonstrated the need to be adaptive to become a great leader, as well as bringing together the key messages from the event:
- Ben Hardy – an engaging and authoritative communicator who is also a dab hand with Lego;
- Lord Wilson of Dinton – whose knowledge, wisdom and ability to engage with a diverse audience is a lesson to all would-be-leaders; and finally
- Simon Heath – who can capture the essence of an experience, through a few simple lines, so that people see things in a different way and the learning sticks.
You are truly a group of high-flying professionals who are a joy to work with. Our shortlisting for this year’s HR Excellence Awards is due in part to you and your influence.
It is a genuine pleasure
watching and helping people learn and grow – that is one of the reasons why I
love being in HR. There are similarities
between HR and designing and tending a garden.
Good HR takes time, it is often hard work and a thankless task, but the
fruits of your labours can be fantastic. Frequently the most apparently
uninspiring bulbs or roots, with some care and support, suddenly sprout and
blossom. Productivity can be found in unlikely places. Last week I had the
felicity of attending the RHS’s Chelsea Flower
Show – certainly the most famous UK show and probably the best known floral
event in the world. It was delightful to wander amongst the different gardens
and displays. I am in awe at the skill
true horticulturalists display in bringing together textures, colours, vistas,
scents and contrasts, with an incredible eye for detail, to create exceptional
spaces that evoke emotions as well as being visually stunning. Each exhibit had
its own style and personality and, as many of my friends on Twitter now know, certain
gardens and plants reminded me of friends. I find that having a connection to
nature makes me feel more alive and helps me grow, so that I want to sing like
|Drawing by Simon Heath|
Summarising achievements at Cambridge
Beatles Blackbird, 1968
(lyrics were inspired by the civil rights movement in America)