Thursday, 10 September 2009

Introducing Mr Bob Brown - Plantsman Extraordinaire

Mr. Bob Brown

Twisted Firestarter!

The back shade tunnel...was didn't set alight.
Bob Brown - caught off guard.

Smoke billowing down the nursery track..oops..!

One of the stockbeds I cleared today.

The frontage of Cotswold Garden Flowers

Tunnel 1
Aconitum Spatlese, Tracycarpus fortunei..and fire smoke.

Before I drink ANOTHER well-deserved glass of Wolfblass, I must tell you about a very special person.
He really needs a fanfare introduction, but I couldn't quite manage that.
Those of you who read my blog hoping to read about plants will be happy with me today. Some of you may be familiar with this man...others not so...but you should be so here goes...
Mr Bob Brown (or if we're gonna get formal...Mr. Robert Chadwin Brown) was the person who taught me everything I know about plants.
I worked for him for 7 years at Cotswold Garden Flowers. Those were some of the best years of my 36 year old life and I look back on those days with a great fondness.
Recently I was offered a one day per week position to help in his stockbeds at the nursery and I almost bit his arm off.
Today was the first day that we started 'the tidy up'...I must at this point inform you that I can barely type because I am so tired.
But that 'good tired' you get from knowing you worked your ass off for a good purpose.
We weeded, we cut back, we lopped, we chopped...and we had one helluva fire! At one point, I actually thought you may be able to see our fire from outer space.
So...back to the beginning...
When I first started working my 'office' job for Bob in 2001, little did I know where it would lead. Every waking hour was spent learning about and getting a 'feel' for plants and what comes with them...touching plants, smelling them, growing them, and keeping them alive, advising customers, taking orders, packing orders, talking know, general planty stuff.
The database we had to work from had some 10,000 records..., yes I thought that as well!
I read the RHS encylopaedia, I read books about Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd, Graham Stuart Thomas and even Percy Thrower and Alan Titchmarsh. I read the 'expert' plant books range and I watched others and learned all I could...because I wanted to. It became my life.
Each Friday, Bob used to give us a mini lecture. Those Friday's stand out more than anything else. He would have us learn 10 different Achillea's or 10 different Dianthus and so on..and then he used to mark our work the following week (he used to be a teacher too) to see if we remembered what he had taught us. Most of us did well. He has a way of teaching, which opens up your receptors and makes you WANT to listen.
These Friday sessions were brilliant and gave me an insight into the workings of a 'real' plantsman's mind.
For the years that followed, my knowledge would grow into what it has today...though I'll never know enough.
So, that skims the surface of my experience at Cotswold Garden Flowers with this pioneer plantsman.
I feel like I know Bob quite well. I know how to take him. I know how he works. I know he appreciates people from all walks of life and that he can adapt to many. I also know that when he's around, people flock to him like flies around...(ahem).
He is like a magnet. Something a person like Bob must find difficult at times to live with...I also know he likes his own company. His problem of course, is that he has a likeable face. A face you will never forget and a manner, which makes you laugh out loud. He will tell it like it is. If he thinks something is shit, he will say it. If he thinks something is good, he'll 'big it up' til the cows come home..
If you're into plants, you'll want to pick his brain because you know he knows what you need to know!
He'll hate me writing all of this...
Bob has spent many a year travelling remote parts of the world...all for plants.
He is known for introducing brand spanking new varieties to the UK and Europe and also for giving you the much needed information on how plants perform in all manner of conditions.
You will not meet many with such a passion for all things green.
It's a pleasure and an honour to have been given the opportunity to work alongside him.
So, feast your eyes on the pics from today. Jealous...? You should be!
To order Bobs plants by mail order...go to to browse the massive listings.
Call 01386 422 829 to order plants.
or Call 01386 833 849 for nursery opening times and information.
Email: for enquiries.
To visit him, the nursery address is:
Cotswold Garden Flowers
Sands Lane
nr Evesham
WR11 7EZ
I will be there with Bob on if you fancy a laugh or coming down for a chin wag just turn up between 9am and 5.30pm...try to avoid 1.30pm cause we'll be filling our faces.
So there you have it...the story of where my path began and the man who made it happen.


Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

wish I COULD visit alright!

this wheel's on fire said...

Amazing photos :D

And didn't Al have the best face in the business? SO beautiful xo