Installing the very model of a modern master

July 6th 2016

The installation of Paul Rochford as the Worshipful Company of Gardeners' new Master was very much a family affair, with his father, his mother-in-law, his two sisters, three sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-law, two sons-in-law, four daughters and American niece, Rebecca Stark, the latter having flown in from Dallas, America, all present at the celebrations at Clothworkers' Hall on Wednesday 6th July 2016.

During the course of the dinner, the Master presented the 2016 Prince of Wales Trophy for Sustainable Horticulture to Margaret Tran, who is now completing her Diploma at RHS Wisley and has been awarded an Interchange Fellowship at Longwood Gardens in America.

Maggie has a particular interest in small independent nurseries in Britain and the way they add to the diversity and wonderful gardening fabric of Britain. She has become concerned about their vulnerability and how this can impact British horticulture as a whole. As part of her dissertation for her Wisley Diploma, Maggie researched and looked into sustainable business strategies including different aspects of ‘sustainability’ from the growing medium and pots to staff well-being.

Her vision is to run a school that would bring together horticulture, business, art and education. For Maggie the best sustainable systems and practice come from an holistic approach, being resourceful, being bold, having the right attitude and being creative.

Outgoing Master Bernard Williams was presented with the Immediate Past Master's badge, and the new Master praised his predecessor's commitment to the education of young horticulturalists and highlighted the recent Master's Charity Dinner, which raised £30,000 for the Future Gardeners project. He also thanked Jan Williams for her hard work and "her calm and gentle presence during the year".

The new Master went on to stress his commitment to education in horticulture and announced the creation of an Education Committee to further the Company's efforts in this area. Sustainability, he said, was another topic the Company needed to focus on. He also revealed that he wants to raise £3,000 to fund a Gardeners' Company memorial paving stone at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, where 40 Livery companies are already represented.