Gardening: Birchfield Nursery in Henfield

PUBLISHED: 01:16 30 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

Gardening: Birchfield Nursery in Henfield

Gardening: Birchfield Nursery in Henfield

Young plantsman, nurseryman and garden designer Jack Dunckley is sure to inspire the "green-thumb" in us all. Words and pictures by Leigh Clapp

You may have heard about 18-year-old Jack Dunckley from reading about his success at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show last year, when he won his second RHS silver medal for his show garden. From the design of an exuberantly joyous and colourful garden you could tell he has a real knowledge and passion for plants.

A visit to Jack Dunckleys Birchfield Nursery in Henfield confirms that initial impression. Since Jack and his family took over the nursery it has continued to build a reputation, started by the previous owner Ron Jenkin, for growing and supplying top quality plants to trade and retail customers.

Jack has an innate ability that has been honed by a childhood passion for plants from the tender age of six. Although self-taught, he has clearly inherited his mothers love of gardening and his paternal grandmothers ability as a florist. Working regularly in the nursery, as well as starting a Diploma in Garden Design at the London College of Garden Design this September, continues his path of experience and knowledge. Being a finalist in the BBC Threes Young Talent of the Year is a further accolade acknowledging his skill.

This prodigy has already created designs for clients through word of mouth and for customers of the nursery. Inspiration comes from the plants but also the world around him. I am quite broad in my designs and can be inspired by a concept or even a pattern I may see. Also a good visual idea of where you are going before starting a garden is important, as well as creating a good skeleton or backbone before filling it with plants. I find colour important but have also done a lush foliage garden, though even then I added touches of colour, Jack explains.

The nursery catalogue reflects Jacks broad interest in plant material, with over 3,000 varieties. Trees, shrubs, herbaceous, bedding, productive and architectural plants are all stocked neatly, many in seasonal displays. There are always new projects and ideas, from expansion to making their own compost, on the go. I am passionate and always thinking of new ideas and we have a great team working here. It is great to make a living, even better when it is something you love doing, Jack comments.

The nursery reacts to the seasons with the busiest periods being spring and autumn with another peak at Christmas time for potted or cut trees. The whole mood of the nursery changes in October with some hot colours and good, rich purples. The trees start to turn, leaves drop and the nursery has a different aspect again, adds Jack.

Opening times

Jack Dunckleys Birchfield Nursery, Henfield, BN5 9AB
Daily except Christmas/New Year period

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