The Questions: Rupert Keys

Rupert Keys is the founder of the TASK Academy, which provides landscaping courses and training for people involved in the industry.  The website says that the courses are based in reality, which I am sure they would be as Rupert has over 30 years experience in the industry.  

photo c/o TASK Academy website

Rupert and a team from the TASK Academy recently built the Newson Health Menopause Garden at Gardeners World Live for garden designer Ruth Gwynn, who just happens to be Rupert's wife.  This garden won platinum and Best in Show Award, and was a garden that was demonstrably so popular with visitors that when I was at the show I could not get a good photograph of it because it was always full of people.  

This was not Rupert's first venture into show garden construction by any scale: he has been involved in over 50 award winning show gardens including at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

So it is amazing that Rupert found time to answer The Questions, but I am very grateful that he did.

The Questions


In which garden do you feel happiest?


Generally in my own! It’s my sanctuary! We have a beautiful view of Bredon Hill near Pershore and sat by our shepherd’s huts surrounded by Ruth’s flowers (Meadow Cut Flowers) 







If you could only have five garden-related tools, which would they be?

My 25year old stubby handle Marshalltown brick trowel, Secateurs, Hori Hori, drag ( like a fork but with bent over times) and Leatherman. 







If you could only have five garden-related books, which would they be?


Anything by Frances Tophill… just such an informative, relaxing read!

Adventures in the Wild by Ben Fogle ( sort of horticultural related),

RHS encyclopaedia of plants, ProLandscaper magazine and Horty Week so I can keep up with news! 




What was the most defining moment in your life so far?


Being joint Foreman at RHS Chelsea in 1992 when I was at Pershore College of Horticulture. We won Gold and The Fiskars Sword of Excellence for Best in Show. A first for a college in the history of Chelsea. It gave me the bug!



What are you most proud of?

Probably up there is Chelsea in 1992 but being around so many amazing people in the industry. I’m proud of everyone at TASK who has helped me along the way but most of all an incredibly supportive family. 




If you won the lottery, what would you do?

Well that’s not going to happen!  I’d invest more into helping local schools and special needs academies to create a modern horticulture facility that is practically led. 

I may have to also buy myself a new brick trowel! 




Who are your garden heroes (no more than three)?

My Grandfather who was a head gardener in Cheltenham. 

Capability Brown 

Ruth Gwynn ( ok, she’s my wife, she’s is a phenomenal gardener. Just in awe sometimes in what she grows and creates!) 




What skill would you like to learn and why? (does not have to be garden related).

Furniture maker! Just love the precision and skill involved creating a piece of art that will hopefully last for a very long time. 




If you could visit any garden right this minute, which one would it be?


Unfortunately, it’s closed now but Bryan’s Ground in Presteigne, Herefordshire is my favourite garden but unfortunately it closed about three years ago.  I would probably have to jump the fence!







What is your current plant obsession?




Which garden tool is never far from your hand?

That trusty old brick trowel. 




 What is your favourite gardening/plant related word?


Espalier… it sounds so decadent. 







 What do you wish you could do better?


Take time to listen and understand people more when I was at the infant stages of Keyscape. 







What is the most important lesson you have learned so far?


Don’t make assumptions. Everyone has their challenges in life and you are there to help, be kind and guide if you can. Be grateful to others that have helped you along your journey! 




What makes a perfect day for you?


I absolutely love seeing people happy, it is addictive. Helping create or teach something for someone…. It’s just the best feeling over anything else! 




If you had one piece of advice to offer to someone what would it be?


 Don’t jump, surround yourself with great people and friends. They will support you in good and bad times. 




Gnome or no gnome?


Absolutely not! 

With grateful thanks to Jane Southcott pr.

Take care and be kind

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