All in a day’s work – a gardener’s world

We’re catching up with local employees – Ian Mould, Head Gardener at Potters Fields Park, gives us an insight into his daily tasks.

As you wander through the entrance to Potters Fields Park and glance up at the view, and down at the flowers, you may spot a busy gardener hidden among the greenery.

Three gardeners work on a shift system to make sure that the 1.3 hectares in Potters Fields Park continue to look spectacular. This is one of few green spaces along the river and it has some of the best views of London you’ll find.

Every season the gardeners are faced with different challenges – and visitors see the fruits of their labours as Potters Fields Park changes from a stretch of bright green grass with colourful flowers to a busy event location during the year.

Winter vs Summer

There are five lawns running from Tower Bridge to City Hall in one direction and heading back from the river to Tooley Street in another. Closest to Tooley Street are the gardens themselves and most of the gardening takes place at the start of the year.

Ian Mould, Head Gardener, says: “There’s a short period from early January until mid-March where we spend time cutting down perennials. This is the best chance to access weeds. For this two- to three-month period we’ll spend a lot of time on our hands and knees weeding – it’s our busiest time of the year.”

In summer, the job is often less about gardening and more about events. Between them the gardeners cover the hours 6am-8pm and Ian says: “In summer there’s no average day. There are lots of events we’re heavily involved in managing (making sure no damage is done to infrastructure like the underground irrigation system). We also spend a lot of time emptying bins and clearing up litter as we can have two tonnes of waste on a hot summer’s day!”

Highlights during the year

Ian says the garden changes all the time and highlights his favourite features in different seasons: “In Spring it’s the big blue haze of the brunnera. Then in late Spring it’s the smell of the peonies and their big open white flowers,” he says. In Summer, Ian loves the river of grasses and river of echinacea, while in Autumn the colour of the tree leaves, particularly the ash trees on the lawns, is a treat for anyone.

The park describes itself as a “sweeping expanse of grass, whispering trees, quiet walkways and colourful herbaceous garden.” Its garden is designed by world famous plantsman Piet Oudolf. He is known for his technique to leave perennial plants up over winter rather than cutting them back as this adds interest to the winter garden. Ian says: “This leaves lots of nice seed heads and stems that look great in the frost.”

Talking to Ian it’s clear the job is not all you’d imagine a gardener’s work to be. Explaining what he enjoys most Ian says: “I love the horticulture, events, the location… but I especially like being able to mix and be part of the community we have. Not just those who work or live in the area but the tours coming through too. We have a large mix of users making the park part of the community – I love speaking to the people who use the park.”

Find out more

You can ask the Potters Fields Park gardener any question you have through Potters Fields Park’s website.

Let us know

If you want to share your typical day with us in a future feature please drop us a line