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A gardening world of success for Sharon Hockenhull

A gardening world of success for Sharon Hockenhull

By Angela Kelly

GREEN FINGERS Sharon Hockenhull at RHS Tatton Park in 2011

AWARD-winning Bolton garden designer Sharon Hockenhull’s success has grown organically from some unusual roots.

The 39-year-old mother of two from Harwood didn’t initially train to be a landscape gardener but was eventually able to marry a love of growing things with a graphic design career that helped her create her own thriving green business.

Now, she has just completed a stint at the BBC Gardener’s World Live event at Birmingham’s NEC after coming in the top four of a competition to create a garden, winning a silver gilt RHS medal to add to the two other RHS medals she has already achieved with her gardening talents.

Sharon’s story goes back to her Billinge home where gardening always fascinated her. This interest remained through her years at Golborne High School and when she was an English student at Manchester University. “I loved growing plants and always had lots of pots with greenery and flowers,” she said.

At this point, the thought of making a career out of her interest in gardening hadn’t occurred to Sharon and she embarked on a working life in publishing, copywriting and marketing which led her into graphic design. “It was really only then that I began to realise the possibilities of garden design as a job,” she said.

In 2006, Sharon started her own business with garden maintenance for clients which grew into garden design and landscaping. Her imaginative skills and knowledge have not only pleased a variety of individual clients but have won her official national recognition as well.

In 2009, she won her first silver gilt medal for a fruit-garden at the RHS Tatton Show. Then in 2011, she won another silver medal in the “back to back” category of small garden exhibits at the RHS Tatton Show. For this she devised a special garden entitled “Embrace” to mark the 40th birthday of St Ann’s Hospice at Little Hulton.

The secret of Sharon’s success is not only listening to exactly what clients want but also taking into account all the colour, height and texture that give each garden that enjoyable, award-winning standard. She applies the same principles she offers clients to the garden of her Bramhall Avenue home where she cultivates plums, apples and raspberries alongside the roses and perennials, and also keeps chickens.

“The chickens mean that the garden sometimes has to change,” as the chickens take a liking to a particular plant and I have to change it,” said Sharon.

She met her future husband Nick at university — he teaches at Thornleigh College — and the couple have two children, seven- year-old Isabel and 10-year-old Jude. So is being green-fingered hereditary?

“Well, they do help me on the allotment and can grow things from seeds,” added their mum.

For Sharon, gardening is still an enjoyable and rewarding job and she believes that people are now appreciating their own gardens more and more.

She added: “They’re our own little oasis, aren’t they? And the Summer weather has helped us appreciate them more than ever.”

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