David O'Keeffe, Head Gardener, Ireland
How long have you worked for Juddmonte and what made you decide to become a gardener?
I have worked for Juddmonte for the past 25 years, initially as an assistant to the Head Gardener at the Ferrans Estate. However, I did not start off in this line of work and had held positions in construction and as a panel beater. I always had a keen interest in gardening, so when an opportunity became available I jumped at the chance and have been here ever since.
Can you describe your role and what does it involve on a day-to-day basis?
I head up a small team of dedicated gardeners at Ferrans Stud and its neighbouring Culcor Estate, which covers some 600 acres of gardens and paddocks. We are responsible for the upkeep of the grounds, borders and shrubs, mowing/lawn care, everything necessary to keep the stud to a high standard.
What would you consider to be the most satisfying aspect of your work?
I love the fact that my job is physical and outdoors. I always look forward to the springtime, watching the bulbs start to burst through the soil and take shape is particularly satisfying.
What would you consider to be the hardest aspect of your role?
The constant rain and drizzle in Ireland can make the job difficult because a weeks work can’t be planned and jobs have to be completed as the weather dictates. Autumn is also a hard time of year when the leaves start to fall, it can feel like an endless task but other than that I wouldn’t change it.