Mirrror Work: Soil Mates; I SWAPPED A CITY JOB FOR GARDENING

Article excerpt

Byline: YVONNE SWANN

WHEN Justin Jones left his high-flying city job for a life in landscape gardening, he feared he may have regrets. He has only one - that he didn't do it sooner.

The married 32-year-old is living a dream held by many. According to City & Guilds, one in three of us want to change career and one in five hanker after a practical or outdoors trade.

Here, Justin tells YVONNE SWANN how he escaped his old routine to the freedom of Justin Jones Landscapes And Gardens in Tooting Beck, South London...

I COME from farming stock and wanted to go into that sort of job. When I left school I went to a technical college to do a City & Guilds horticultural course and then I went to Pershore Horticultural College in Worcestershire.

I finished my qualifications after five years. But, aged 22, I got scared.

People were buying lawnmowers and wheelbarrows and calling themselves gardeners.

I was no longer sure horticulture would lead to a long-term career and financial security. Maybe I lacked a bit of confidence.

So instead I went to work for a mechanical engineering company in Dorking, Surrey.

They were just starting up so I was in right at the beginning with two other guys and by the age of 23 I'd bought my first house.

I stayed there for eight years and became a director. None of us had run our own company before so it was all very exciting.

After that I wanted to work in a large corporate environment.

I went to the Michael Page Group - a city recruitment company that focused on accountants.

There were lots of perks, a good salary and a helpful, friendly atmosphere, but after 18 months things became more competitive. …