30 September 2021

Plumpton Alumnus showcase Horticultural excellence at Chelsea Flower Show

We caught up with John McPherson, a Plumptonian who designed a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last week, and spoke to him about his inspiration and studying here.

John studied at Plumpton College in 2019 on Level 2 Practical Horticulture and Design course and immediately signed up for Level 3 Diploma in Garden Design due to how much he enjoyed the course. On the Level 3 course, students focus on garden design principles, the history of plants, plants in the environment, and the business side of preparing to work in the industry. The Level 2 course is perfect for those looking to switch up their career or develop their hobby.

John has been a visitor to RHS Chelsea Flower Show since 2012 and always wondered what it would be like to design a show garden. The category he applied for was 'Container Gardens', and designs were selected by an RHS panel which included designer Jo Thompson. With the help of his fellow students and and advice from Horticulture tutor Rachel Owen, he realised the project and assembled a team to help bring his vision to life.

What was your inspiration behind Pop Street garden?
Pop Street garden, my design for RHS Chelsea Flower Show, was initially inspired by a work of art that hangs on the wall above my desk – constantly in my peripheral vision – by British Pop artist Sir Peter Blake. It's called 'Bobbie Rainbow.' I love pop art, with its bright colours and wry humour, and I thought it would put a smile on people's faces. I wasn't prepared for the amazing response it received in the press and from visitors. It's been an incredible experience.

What did you enjoy about studying at Plumpton College?
Plumpton College is set in such a beautiful spot, just arriving on campus made me smile, but it was the people I met on my courses, their company, humour, and support, that really made the experience worthwhile. 

How has studying at Plumpton College helped you achieve your career path?
Studying here gave me a good awareness of all the different strands of activity you need to develop to start your own design business; plant knowledge, interpersonal communication skills, marketing skills, etc. I still have a lot of work to do, and there is much more to learn. However, I think my time at Plumpton College, the tutors, and my colleagues have inspired me to continue developing my work and achieving my ambitions.

Are you interested in following a career similar to John's? Look at our range of Horticulture 14-16, 16+, part-time courses and apprenticeships. We have courses running at Plumpton College and our Stanmer Campus, One Garden Brighton, Centre of Excellence for Horticulture.

Plumpton College proudly sponsored John McPherson and his Pop Street garden design at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Photo taken by Kat Weatherill - Pop Street garden design
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