I was born in London, England but have lived in the United States for the past 35 years. I have worked in the garden world as gardener,director and designer for almost 45 years. I am best-known for my work at Chanticleer, an estate and “pleasure garden” in Wayne, PA, where I worked for 20 years.
I started my gardening life at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England, where I was trained as a gardener. I worked in three other gardens in the UK, Portmeirion in Wales, Bateman’s in Sussex, and Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. At Bateman’s, I was responsible for the restoration of the 17th-century garden.
I came to the U.S. in 1981 and was director and chief designer of Chanticleer in Pennsylvania for the next 20 years. I transformed a moribund private estate into one of America’s most exuberant, romantic and flamboyant gardens. Its glorious 47 acres have been celebrated by gardeners and horticulturists from around the world and, based on my designs, it continues to draw national and international visitors every season.
After twenty years creating Chanticleer, I became vice president for horticulture at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden. In 2006, I was appointed director of the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, Canada. While pleased to be in Canada, my heart yearned for California and in 2008 I was appointed executive director of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. After a successful period in northern California, I returned to my home near Santa Barbara, CA where I operated my own design-consulting business.
In 2012, I was lured back east by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (founded in 1827) and appointed director of its private estate and garden, Meadowbrook Farm. I was commissioned by PHS to design the central feature for the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, the third major exhibit I have designed for PHS over the years. Moving back to Pennsylvania was a mistake, although I became friends with many people there, and I returned to California a year later.
Among numerous other responsibilities, I have been a member of the board of the Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia and a founding member of the Business Advisory Board for the Flora of North America Project. I have designed gardens in Chicago, northern and southern California, and throughout the Northeastern United States. I have been a consultant to the Garden Conservancy and to Botanic Gardens Conservation International, as well as serving on the horticulture advisory committee of Lotusland in Santa Barbara, California.
I was Advancement Advisor for the Flora of North America Association and am now traveling the world researching, interviewing, and photographing for a book on contemporary global gardens.
Books & Awards
My first book, The Encyclopedia of Perennials, was published in 1992 by Facts on File. I also contributed to 1001 Gardens to See Before You Die (Barron’s Educational Series, 2012) and The Gardener’s Garden (Phaidon Press, 2014).
In 2003, I was awarded the Professional Citation for significant achievements in public horticulture by the American Public Garden Association.
In 2007, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded me its prestigious medal for Distinguished Achievement.