Wow, what a truly wonderful and memorable day!
Just over a year ago I entered a competition to spend the day shadowing gardening hero, broadcaster and writer, Peter Seabrook MBE at The Sun offices in London. Well, I was the lucky chosen one and finally today after many emails back and forth with Peter, we met!
Peter has been the Gardening Editor at The Sun for over 40 years, a remarkable achievement you may think, but it’s obvious to see why within minutes of meeting. He’s charming, incredibly kind, an old school gent and he knows endless information about plants.
We dined on the 14th floor with amazing views over London, shared family stories, met many of the editors, looked at poorly plant samples sent in by readers and most importantly, chatted about our joint passion… gardening.
Peter’s knowledge and experience regarding horticulture is phenomenal; many would think, myself included that he knows everything there is to know. Well, he’s been in this wonderful industry for 65 years, studying the RHS Diploma in 1956 whilst working full time and raising a small family, then going on to work at the most amazing gardens like he still does now. But as he pointed out today “There is always someone who knows more than you”.
I’m not sure though… maybe they just know different things and not always more. This is why as gardening enthusiasts or ‘experts’, we have to share knowledge, skills and experience. We can all learn from each other, whether we have been gardening for 1 or 70 years. Don’t you agree?
Something we both certainly agreed on was the power of actual physical copy in your hands… newspapers, books and hand written cards. An online article, e-book or email just isn’t the same. They may be easier and more-timely for your needs, but they don’t ooze the same love, care and personality. Although, whilst I’m sat here writing an online blog for you, I do hope that isn’t the case entirely.
One day, I would love to write a book and/or my own feature column which may soothe and please my own love for physical copy. Hint, hint, publishers and editors.
Until then, it was wonderful to visit the design team and editors who put together Peter’s two page features which he writes alongside Val and Steve Bradley. In case you don’t know, their weekly gardening coverage is in the TV magazine pull out of The Sun newspaper every Saturday. I got to see every step of how Peter’s thoughts, adventures and favourite photos transform in to the design and printed copy we see every week. I even cheekily have a copy on my lap of the issue coming out this Saturday.
During the last hour of the day, once we had finished our very topical discussion around paid advertising with brands and influencer marketing, I was fortunate to sit in on Peter recording his next weekly podcast titled ‘This Week In The Garden‘. The main feature being a wonderful interview which I got to listen to firsthand with Paul Owen, the founder of the popular and now global brand, VegTrug. What I loved about this interview is that Peter focused on the back story of the product. We had both agreed earlier that most of the time we are more interested in the personal story of products and the people who created them, than the actual thing itself. Be sure to download and subscribe if podcasts are your thing.
I want to finish on a controversial subject I briefly touched on… paid advertising and influencer marketing. I need to write a whole feature on this very soon, but it was great to share thoughts with someone so highly regarded and experienced in the industry. It is becoming natural for those in journalism or on social media with high followers to collaborate with brands, being paid a fee and gifted a product so that they will advertise it on their Instagram or other pages. Does this damage the reputation of the person themselves though, their ethos and also the reputation of the brand? Is it a good way to make money in a restricted budget industry? Is it just another marketing fad that will disappear in time?
Luckily, Peter and I shared the same thoughts which I will divulge in a long piece at a later date, but for now I would love to know your thoughts please? If you see #AD next to a post featuring a product, does it turn you off or does it entice you to read more? Does it help give you ideas? Further still… do you click the link and buy the product? Please comment below or email me and let me know your thoughts.
Lastly, the biggest thank you to Peter for a wonderful day; his energy, passion and knowledge is incredible. His work ethic is a whole other level though, he doesn’t stop and this is what really stood out for me. He’s an inspirational man who certainly made a memorable and positive imprint on me!
Thank you also to Steve Bradley and the wonderful editors and designers who gave me their time. It was incredibly valuable and greatly appreciated.
PS. I may have a little unplanned feature in this Thursday’s newspaper, so take a look if you grab a copy. It’s not related to gardening at all, but features paper and hats. Grab every opportunity is the saying, so I did. It will make you giggle.