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My Swedish Career
UK's 'humble gardener' sows Swedish TV career

UK's 'humble gardener' sows Swedish TV career

John Taylor is perhaps best known as the man with the green thumbs and a slight English accent on a weekly gardening show on television. He tells The Local how he made a career out of "digging holes" in Sweden.

Published: 22 Apr 2013 16:30 CET

Taylor, 48, came to Sweden in 1992 and currently works as one of the faces on Sveriges Television's Trädsgårdsonsdag ("Garden Wednesday") programme.

But it's been a long road from Sheffield to Sweden's small screen, one that involves love, the Territorial Army, and getting kicked out of Swedish classes in the aptly name Rosengård ("Rose Garden").

"England has a tradition of gardening going back to the middle ages when Swedes were still living in holes in the ground," Taylor tells The Local.

"Gardening didn't really take off here until the 20th century."

But rather than move to Sweden to offer the Swedes a set of skilled green fingers and save them from uninspiring backyards, Taylor came to Malmö in the south for a relationship.

"Just like a lot of us guys do," Taylor explains.

He had his gardening training in tow when he arrived, but his first task was to master the language. He realized quickly that learning the native tongue was the key to blooming opportunity.

"I found Swedish to be quite easy and picked it up quickly - within a year I was speaking fluently. It’s all about applying yourself," he explains.

But despite his flying colours in the SFI classroom, he wasn't even able to finish the course.

"Me and a French guy got kicked out because we'd managed to get ourselves part-time jobs and that wasn't allowed apparently,” he recalls with a chuckle. He doesn't regret taking the job, however.

"Once you're employed, you have a better chance of getting employed elsewhere. I'm not saying you need to start at the bottom, but you have to get in the game. That's the best way to make it here in Sweden."

And now with over 20 years of Swedish experience under his belt, it's safe to say that Taylor has indeed made it. He even has his own set of fans.

"I have been nabbed in the airport a few times by people who have wanted to say thanks for the show. But it's no biggie, I'm just a humble gardener and it's part of the job."

SEE ALSO: Click here for the latest listings for jobs in Sweden

But it's not all sunshine and roses for the Brit, as gardening becomes an almost impossible task during Sweden's harsh winters. So how does a British gardener deal with the Swedish chill every year?

"Horribly, like everyone else," he admits. "I go to Portugal."

Taylor's interest in gardening stems from his love for the great outdoors, where he spent his childhood "running around, chasing things, burning things, and digging holes".

During a spell in the Territorial Army, Taylor spent even more time digging holes ("That’s all they do in the army") and eventually decided to spend his time filling them instead.

As Sweden finally, timidly warms up after an unusually long winter, Taylor thinks gardeners here should place their bets on planting Asters and Chrysanthemums, "as they extend the season into autumn".

Besides being on television, Taylor is employed by the municipality's streets and parks department as head gardener in the Slottsträdgården project at the Malmö Castle Garden.

So what next for the UK gardener with the Skåne dialect? Perhaps a step up from the small screen to the silver screen?

"No, I don't think so, something a bit more low key than that," he tells The Local with a laugh.

"At the end of May we'll be doing the work for the Malmö Garden Show; it's a three-day show and well worth a visit. Be sure to come on down."

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)


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