Real Voices: Pippa Greenwood
Horticultural broadcaster and writer
What’s your job?
I host Gardeners’ Question Time on BBC Radio 4 and write for Gardeners’ World among other things.
What was your career path?
I’ve always been totally fascinated by all things natural. I trained as a botanist and specialised in plant pathology. I then worked at the Royal Horticultural Society for 11 years looking at sick plants. I had no intention of going into broadcasting, but I was working in a booth at the Chelsea Flower Show and someone from the BBC wanted to interview me. Later, they asked me to come back and be a presenter on Gardeners’ World.
What’s your average day like?
On Question Time, we get no notice whatsoever of what will come up. You’re really working from your knowledge and you’re part of the team. When we do features – on say, biological control of greenhouse pests – I go away and do some research. The job is fantastic because we go all over the country. From the north of Scotland to south of Cornwall.
What’s your favourite plant?
I am very fond of a lot of native plants – a woodland of English bluebells or a gnarled apple tree.
Why do you think studying plants is important?
It’s a basic fact that without plants, animals (including us!) couldn’t survive. People need to step back from looking at some finer point and look at where it all started and understand what’s going on about them. Whether you want to be a scientist – microbiologist, environmental biologist, ecologist – or not, you need to see things as a whole.
What advice would you give someone who wants a job like yours?
Do get well-informed and build on your own enthusiasm for the subject you love first. You can do media studies and film studies but it doesn’t tell you anything about the subject.