Sam started gardening at the age of 8. As a teenager at school he worked part time at a local market garden.
In 1962 he started as an apprentice gardener with Liverpool Parks Department working in all departments, including specialist sections of the Botanical Gardens. On completion, he had a brief period in private service, returning to the Parks Department to take up the post of training instructor, finally becoming the technical adviser.
In 1980, he moved to Tatton Park as a propagator, being appointed to the position of Head Gardener in 1983. While at Tatton, Sam has become a horticultural writer, qualifying as a member of the Garden Writers Guild. He became a member of the team on the Classic FM Gardening Forum programme and appeared on various TV programmes which included co-presenting the regular SKY Garden Club etc.
He is a registered lecturer and judge for the Royal Horticultural Society and writes for, the RHS journal ‘The Garden’ as well as other periodicals and the local press, as well as various Japanese Publications.
He is a member of the Garden History Society and in 1992 was appointed as a member of the Institute of Horticulture. In 1997 he qualified as a Churchill Fellow, this project took him to China and Japan to study the history of Japanese gardens. He has lectured on historic English gardens in both of these countries and has written articles for various Japanese Journals.
During his time at Tatton, he has overseen many different schemes involving the restoration of several parts of the garden, including the complete restoration of the Italian Garden, the Orangery, Fernery and Showhouse which won a Europa Nostra award in 1994.
Sam has also acted as Consultant on many other projects related to gardens.
In 2004, he was made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture and recognition of his work in founding the Cheshire Group of the NCCPG he was made an honorary member.
He is also a founder and honorary member of the Japanese Garden Society in Britain and is also a founder member of the North West Branch of the Japanese Society UK.
He was appointed in 1998 to the RHS Advisory Group, having special reference to the Tatton Park Flower Show. Sam has also been a regular exhibitor at many other shows, including Chelsea and Hampton Court and of course the RHS show at Tatton Park.
In 2000, Sam was responsible for the planning of the restoration of Tatton’s Japanese Garden which is one of the finest examples of Japanese Garden Art and was first constructed at the turn of the century. He was also responsible for overseeing the work of the restoration which was undertaken by specialists from Japan.
During 2002, Sam visited Japan twice, once to the Alps and secondly to the garden city of Kyoto then on to revisit the Chinese garden city of Suzhou to continue this study of oriental gardens.
In January 2003, Sam was awarded the Associateship of Honour from the RHS conferred on persons of British Nationality who have rendered distinguished service to horticulture in the course of their employment. The number of Associates may not exceed 100 at any one time.
One of the largest projects Sam has overseen has been the complete restoration of the Walled Kitchen Garden, including all its ancillary buildings. This project includes an education facility which has revived the ‘Art’ of Kitchen Gardening’ from around 1900.
An interesting part of this project has been the rebuilding of an authentic Pineapple house, one of just a handful in existence.
In 2005, Sam received an RHS Bursary to travel to Africa in order to re-establish links with Egerton University for Agriculture and Horticulture. The project also involved Botanic Garden links from Kenya to Cape Town where Sam lectured to the Botanic Society or South Africa at Kirstenbosch.
2006/2007 saw the links with Africa grow through a schools education programme. To date in 2011, 37 schools in Africa are now linked to 37 schools in Cheshire covering all topics including food production. Sam is a School Governor of Egerton School.
In 2008 Sam started to look at ways to involve a greater audience in the ‘Art of Gardening’. One way he did this was to introduce an ‘artist in residence’ who would be able to pull together the kitchen gardens’ with the country house. This resulted in a successful exhibition which ran for a number of months in the spring of 2010.
2009 was also the time when Sam teamed up with an ex Cheshire Poet Laureate to expose audiences to both poetry and prose related to gardens and gardening performances in Libraries, Art Galleries and Country Houses. These performances have also seen some of the owners taking part themselves in these programmes.
2010 also saw the development of links with the Garden Channel and Gardening Vodcasts (video podcasts) with Sam presenting a twice monthly ‘What to do in your garden’ vodcast programme. At present they are downloaded by nearly 50,000 people each time one is produced.
2011 Sam was invited to join the Board of Trustees for Norton Priory Museum and Halton Castle. He was also appointed as the first honorary member of the Tatton Garden Society, and also as first Honorary President of Knutsford in Bloom. The year also saw him appointed as Chairman of Cheshire Gardens of Distinction panel with special emphasis on expanding the marketing of Cheshire’s gardens within the European Garden Heritage network. Sam also acts as garden advisor to many historic properties.
In the meantime Sam continues his work at Tatton restoring and recreating parts of the garden, whilst at the same time maintaining a high standard in the gardens overall.