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John Hawkins Gardening: ask the expert

For this edition of Life Begins, we decided to do something a bit different and took time out to speak to one of the local areas leading horticulturists John Hawkins, from well known local garden centre Stewart's. John got into horticulture at a very early age when he was looking for a weekend job and hasn't looked back since.

"In 1957, when I lived in Hillingdon, Middlesex, I was looking for a weekend job, (I was 14 years old at the time.) and a friend told me that a Chrysanthemum nursery nearby wanted some youngsters. I went along and started the work the next weekend" he recalls. "We later moved to Bournemouth and I remember seeing two adverts for horticulture jobs in the local paper - one for Bournemouth parks and one for Stewarts nurseries at Ferndown. I had a word with a teacher at school and he recommended Stewarts. After a successful interview, I started on the 1st of September 1958 at Stewarts Woolslope nursery, along the West Moors Road. (There were no garden centres, as such, back then)." John has worked for Stewarts ever since and has seen many changes over the years including the closure of the West Moors nurseries and the opening of the Stewart's sites in Broomhill, Wimborne and Christchurch in the 1960's.

20 Life Begins

Now retired from full-time work at Stewarts, John spends his free time walking, reading and Line Dancing, but he still keeps his finger in the compost by helping out at a local primary school's gardening club. And, just like the daffodils, he returns to Stewarts every spring to offer the team there his valuable experience.

With springtime soon to be upon us, many if us will be itching to get back out into the garden for a tidy up in preparation for the summer. We recently encouraged our readers to put their questions to him and we hope his valuable tips will help you in your quest for the perfect garden this summer. If you'd like to put a question to John, why not follow us on twitter (@lifebeginsmag) or drop us a line? Write to us at: Life Begins Magazine IMS Ltd, 6 Whittle Road, Ferndown Industrial Estate, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 7RU or email:

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