Suffolk-based Catherine McMillan has worked in horticulture for over 20 years and has spent much of that time patiently explaining the same basic principles to a succession of customers previously baffled by the seemingly enormous complexity of trying to keep enough plants alive in the land outside their homes to be able to describe it as garden.
She has also noted that many people with gardens have little desire to become (dramatic pause, heroic pose) Gardeners, any more than everyone with a living room wants to take up interior design.
Alongside her career growing and selling plants, Catherine spent 10 years working part-time as Editorial Assistant at the Suffolk Free Press newspaper, where she learned to cut to the chase.
In 2016 and 2017 Catherine combined the two disciplines to write a well-received series of gardening articles for the East Anglian Daily Times.
As can probably be deduced from the quality of the drawings in Gardening for the Uncommitted, her illustration experience extends no further than a GCSE in Art & Design (grade A).
She started her horticultural life at Chilton Quality Plants in Sudbury as a skinny teenager who had to use both hands to change gear on the tractors and who saw far more of the reproductive cycles of slugs and snails than anyone could possible want to. Driving 30-year-old Massey Ferguson 135s proved poor preparation for driving cars, but the years working on the 13-acre wholesale nursery gave her an excellent grounding on growing and caring for climbers, shrubs and hardy perennials.
Catherine currently works at Katie's Garden Plant Centre in Newbourne, and Bridge Farm Plants in Monks Eleigh, where she has gained experience with an even wider variety of plants, including roses, herbs, alpines, patio plants and seasonal bedding. Alongside this she has a regular slot on Felixstowe Radio giving gardening advice, and also shares tips online on the Facebook pages of both nurseries.
‘Gardening for the Uncommitted: What You Really Need to Know, When You Don’t Really Want to Know’ by Catherine McMillan is available now as a paperback book and ebook from Amazon.co.uk and from Bridge Farm Plants and Katie's Garden Plant Centre.