RHS staff share their passion for plants


The RHS has discovered through research that more than a tenth of its 900 staff have names that can be linked to gardening. Around 12% of RHS staff have a name associated with nature, the outdoors or horticulture – supporting the theory of ‘nominative determinism’, the idea that people are drawn to careers that fit their names.

Nearly a third are taken directly from horticulture, including four Heathers, three Berrys and another three called Moss. And if you visit a plant centre at one of the four RHS Gardens, you might be served by a Gardiner, Marsh or Shears. More peripheral names include Hill, Moore and Shaw – an old English word for a strip of woodland – as well as Bird, Fountaine and Goodacre.

The horticultural staff at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey include a Garland, a Garlick and a Greenfield, as well as the garden’s aptly-named Curator, Matthew Pottage (who was preceded in the role by Jim Gardiner). Heather Cutmore and Christopher Rose tend the gardens at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex, and Rosie Treharne looks after fruit and vegetables at RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon.

Matthew Pottage (pictured above) says the theory might hold true for him: “I don’t have any professional gardeners among family members, so my love of all things green and leafy probably came from my grandma, who enjoyed collecting houseplants and gardening in her spare time. However, she was not from the Pottage side of the family, and I grew up just outside of Hull, where it certainly wasn’t commonplace for people to be pottering in their potagers, so the name connection is perhaps a mystery at face value. But being the Curator of RHS Garden Wisley is my dream job, and surely one of the best jobs in the gardening world, so perhaps nominative determinism is at play here!.”

Chief Horticulturist Guy Barter says: “It’s a fascinating phenomenon and we would be interested to see whether the theory applies for people working in other sectors of the horticultural industry across the UK such as garden centres, growers, community gardening groups or other gardening organisations – especially if there’s a long history of gardening in the family!” Stories can be emailed into us

The RHS is inviting all gardeners and would-be gardeners to get involved in National Gardening Week this year and share their passion for plants by joining or planning events all over the UK. Our four RHS Gardens will also be running a programme of fun and informative events to help visitors get growing, with talks from award-winning and celebrity gardeners including Adam Frost, Ann-Marie Powell, Charlotte Harris, Hugo Bugg, Jamie Butterworth and Nigel Dunnett.