RHS director general Sue Biggs on her perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 23:13 19 July 2011 | UPDATED: 05:10 20 May 2014
Originally hailing from Yorkshire, RHS director general Sue Biggs has lived in Surrey for almost 30 years, currently taking root in Sunbury-on-Thames. A gardening obsessive, the weekend usually sees her exploring the county's many wonderful gardens (and garden centres!) for new sources of inspiration
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2011
I’ve always loved gardening and it’s been one of my biggest passions since the age of seven, so it’s a great thrill and honour to be at the RHS, a fantastic charity whose main aim is to help and encourage millions of people to enjoy gardens and gardening.
You might think I’d want a break from plants at the weekend, but actually I can’t wait to get outdoors to spend time in my riverside garden or in the nearby gardens at Hampton Court Palace and Bushy Park, or of course resisting (or not!) the temptations of the many garden centres around Sunbury-on-Thames where I live.
That’s why my perfect Saturday still begins as it did when I was a member of the RHS before heading up the charity. The day starts with a visit to our stunningly beautiful flagship site, RHS Garden Wisley, to find inspiring ideas to take home and build my gardening knowledge throughout the four seasons.
I’d finish my visit with a coffee and a sneaky slice of carrot cake, before ending up in the plant centre. No matter how much I try, I can’t resist the fabulous variety of gorgeous plants and always find something new and beautiful to take home.
I am from Yorkshire, but have lived in this county for almost 30 years and adore it. It’s so varied, with everything from beautiful open parkland and countryside to pretty quintessentially English villages like Ripley – from market towns like Dorking (I worked there at Kuoni Travel for 25 years, most recently as managing director) to great shopping in ever-improving Kingston, which has seen a great resurgence in recent years.
So, on a Saturday afternoon, my husband Paul and I are spoilt for choice. A wonderful place to enjoy lunch and spectacular views of the Thames and Hampton Court Palace is the Mitre just off Hampton Court Bridge – but remember to make a reservation if it’s during Hampton Court Palace Flower Show week in July.
Then, time for an afternoon visit into Kingston, with a race around John Lewis and Waitrose – they’re fantastic shops with great value goods and really wonderful service with a smile. We’d end our day with a glass of wine by the river, before joining some friends for supper at our superb local restaurant, Indian Zest in Lower Sunbury.
On Sunday morning, my husband and I would (eventually!) enjoy going swimming or a walk along the Thames, past Hampton Court Palace and into boutiquey East Molesey. It has a great village atmosphere and is a superb place for a brunch and a leaf through the Sunday papers.
Afterwards, it’s time to spend the afternoon at home indulging myself in my garden, planting all my treats from RHS Wisley, sharing garden talk with neighbours and generally pottering away until the sun begins to go down and I think it’s about time to get ready for work.
And then I remember that it’s Monday tomorrow and I’m at RHS Wisley – how lucky am I to have that as my workplace?
RHS Wisley, Woking GU23 6QB.
Tel: 0845 260 9000 / www.rhs.org.uk