The Head Gardener at Floors Castle is Andrew Simmons. With 42 years experience including previously been employed at Balmoral, Andrew brings a wealth of knowledge, a keen eye for detail and an unrivalled passion for gardening.
Q. What is the best thing about working at Floors?
A. I would have to say the variety. Floors is home to a huge walled garden packed with herbaceous borders, lawns, woodland gardens, hot houses, a vegetable patch, indoor plants, private gardens… the list is endless!
Q. If you could improve one thing about the gardens at Floors, what would it be?
A. I would like to lift and divide the Hot Border. It is so erratic, it is hard to maintain. The other herbaceous borders are all carefully planned and mapped out but the Hot Border runs wild. I suppose you could say that it was part of its charm.
Q. Could you tell us more about the team of gardeners employed at Floors?
A. Well we are very lucky to have an excellent team here. Each has their own specialist subject.
- Len Freshwater is fantastic with the grapes and peaches in the hot house.
- Simon McManus is exceptionally good with potted plants – the streptocarpus especially.
- Brian Shearer is the grass man! He works from dawn to dusk in the summer months to keep the lawns looking neatly trimmed.
- Kenny Thomson is the longest serving gardener and has experience with all aspects of gardening.
Q. Tell us more about working at Balmoral.
A. I worked at Balmoral for ten years and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very challenging because there was virtually no top soil, there was no month when we didn’t get frost and there was lots of shade! But you knew what the family wanted from the gardens and they let you get on with it.
Q. and what was the Queen like?
A. She had a keen interest in the gardens which was fantastic.
Q. What is your favourite plant
A. A rose. Roseraie de l'Hay – it has a lovely crimson colour and the most wonderful scent that you just want to bury your nose in.
Q. What is the best thing about being a gardener?
A. Enjoying the results of all of the labours! It is so rewarding to see the borders looking their best.
Q. And the worst?
A. Last Spring frosts can be damaging and frustrating but you learn to live with the effect of the weather.
Q. What couldn’t you live without?
A. Secateurs to prune those unruly shoots.
Q. If you weren’t a Gardener, what would you be?
A. Hmm…Something outdoors – just the thought of an office job makes my head hurt! Maybe a Mountain Guide?
Q. What is your top tip for budding gardeners?
A. Work with what surrounds you! Don’t try and recreate something you have seen elsewhere. Look at what surrounds you, consider the environment and weather of your garden and plan it from there.