Bury St Edmunds garden expert nominated for Anglia in Bloom award after 30 years of service

Abbey Gardens Head gardener Steve Burgess nominated for award with Anglia in Bloom
Abbey Gardens Head gardener Steve Burgess nominated for award with Anglia in Bloom

A green-fingered Bury St Edmunds garden expert has been nominated for an Anglia in Bloom award for three decades of service to the town.

Steve Burgess, 57, head gardener at the Abbey Gardens since 2002, has worked for St Edmundsbury Borough Council in the Gardens since 1984.

He will find out if he has won the award at a ceremony on September 9 in Gorleston-on-Sea.

Steve said: “It is fantastic to have the recognition, but without the team I have had here, past and present, we would not have the standard we have achieved over the years that makes us stand out.”

Steve, originally from Walthamstow, north London, has lived in Red Lodge with wife Fran since 1980.

He was competing with around 14 others for the position at the Abbey Gardens when he applied in 1984.

He said: “I thought there was no way in the world I would get it.

“I felt absolutely ecstatic to be nearer home doing something I loved.”

Having started as a nursery worker in the Gardens, the father of two took over his current position from Sean Read, now head gardener at Ickworth House.

Steve praised the influence of one particular head gardener, Peter Turner.

“Peter was very interactive. His enthusiasm brushed off on all of us and inspired us to do more,” he said.

Steve’s horticultural passion started at the age of ten, working on his parents’ vegetable plot.

“I realised gardening was what I wanted to do,” he said.

At 13 he started working weekends in a nursery in Enfield, then on leaving school at 15 he applied for a job as an assistant groundsman for Waltham Forest Council.

“I left that job in 1980 and worked in a granary for a few months. I couldn’t stand it, so I took my old job back in London,” he said.

Steve commuted from Red Lodge to Walthamstow for two years before getting job as a gardener at Newmarket Hospital.

From the hospital he came to the Abbey Gardens, where he was given horticultural training with Otley College.

Steve has helped Bury secure national and international recognition for its floral excellence, winning numerous titles in the In Bloom competitions since 1987.

He has even taken a turn at judging himself, helping to judge the Mildenhall in Bloom competition for the past five years.

He said he would like to retire early, but added: “You never know!”