He’s renowned for creating floral spectaculars and inspiring generations of budding creatives, yet horticulturalist Jonathan Moseley enjoys nothing more than pottering in his Dronfield greenhouse.

A chat with Jonathan Moseley is akin to an audience with floristry royalty.

Not that this modest Derbyshire man would expect the slightest fanfare. There’s simply a quiet self-belief that after almost 30 years in the business, he’s right at the top of his game.

And with good reason. Having already merited Honorary Membership of the Institute of Professional Florists, Jonathan’s has now been awarded the prestigious RHS Harlow Carr Medal for Services to Horticulture in the north of England.

‘I was blown away when the RHS president told me; it was a total shock,’ recalls Jonathan. ‘To receive such recognition from your own peers and from a world-renowned body in the RHS is something that I’ll be very proud of for the rest of my life.

Great British Life: The seeds were sown for Jonathan's passion for floristry from an early age Photo jonathan-moseley.comThe seeds were sown for Jonathan's passion for floristry from an early age Photo jonathan-moseley.com

Indeed, Jonathan has come along way since starting his highly successful career. So what would he have told the young Jonathan when starting out?

‘If I look back on my career I was quite a shy young person,’ he reveals.

‘The advice I would now give to my younger self would be to listen and acknowledge when people say that you are good. Having a little more confidence at an early age would have been really empowering.’

Although, to describe Jonathan as a late bloomer – he studied for a degree in ancient history ¬– is to gloss over the massive part that gardening played in his upbringing.

An only child, it’s his grandfather Jack, a miner by trade, whom he credits with sowing the seeds of a burgeoning interest.

‘Gardening was his hobby and he used to exhibit dahlias and pot plants at flower shows,’ remembers Jonathan.

‘From around the age of ten I’d go along with him to the competitions. And by the age of 12, I was winning cups and trophies too.

‘At this time, I’d already got my own greenhouse and would sell plants, later earning enough money to buy a car.

‘So I’ve always had an entrepreneurial side and I learnt from my grandfather that if you wanted to get on in life, you had to work hard.’

It was advice Jonathan heeded as post-university, what was intended as a stop-gap job at a local garden centre instead provided the impetus to study for part-time floristry qualifications.

Great British Life: Jonathon Moseley posing for the camera at the WAFA World Show, DublinJonathon Moseley posing for the camera at the WAFA World Show, Dublin

During the next four years, following a day’s work, he’d rent the coffee shop to hold demonstrations, where, as he recalls: ‘Very quickly, I had 30 people coming along each night, and soon realised that I’d got a skill to share.’

A string of florist shops in Ashbourne, Bakewell and Sheffield provided another window for his obvious talents.

So too was the decade Jonathan spent decorating Chatsworth House – with his imaginative eye for detail coming to the fore again as he showcased the stunning floral bridge and orchid marquee designed for the RHS Show, held on the Devonshire estate.

From the early days of winning local trophies alongside his grandfather Jack, Jonathan is now a household name and very much respected within the industry.

With TV and radio appearances alongside gardening favourites Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don and Sarah Raven attracting far-flung audiences, Jonathan has developed a strong following.

One advantage of this profile is being able to put Derbyshire on the map. A legacy, he says, that matters.

‘I often get asked: “Where in London do you live?” Yet I live here in Derbyshire, and as an international florist it’s lovely to sometimes work in my own back yard,’ he says.

He’s also delighted to currently be a patron of the Markeaton Walled Garden in Derby, whilst he also supports urology and breast cancer charities; a floristry demonstration held in Alfreton earlier this year raising over £8,000 for the local branch of Cancer Research UK.

Another of his greatest pleasures, says Jonathan, is seeing people excel and get better in their floral craft.

Great British Life: Jonathan's career has seen him receive a number of prestigious accolades (c) jonathan-moseley.comJonathan's career has seen him receive a number of prestigious accolades (c) jonathan-moseley.com

And of course, along with the therapeutic benefits which floristry brings, there are the friendships that are forged along the way.

As teaching and demonstrating continues to bring its rewards and accolades – another highlight being selected to represent the UK at the World Flower Show aka the flower-arrangers’ Olympics – at the root of his success, Jonathan believes, is an understanding of horticulture.

‘One thing I always say to students is that I couldn’t be a good florist without knowing how plants grow and what grows well together,’ he says.

‘Presently, my own style is very naturalistic, it’s influenced by my own garden and nature. I want the flowers to have a voice; to let the star performers come to the fore and to let the foliage and seed heads back up these key players.

‘It’s very much driven by the season and what I can gather from the garden and from the hedgerows. Obviously, we don’t encourage people to rob from nature but hedgerows and wasteland have so much to offer.

‘A few stems of cow parsley transforms a bunch of flowers. During winter, I forage for catkins, pussy willow and birch. This past year, after all the heavy snow, I gathered so many twigs that had snapped off in the local woodland.’

In fact, the 52-year-old has long been a champion of UK flower growers and seasonality.

Regularly working with artisan and large-scale producers on home soil, he sees no sense in buying imported tulips when the 50 million grown here are harvested at their best.

And his eponymously named British Flower Bus, decked-out as a florist’s shop, played a pivotal role in spreading this message, during its tour of leading flower shows in 2018.

So, which are the must-have plants within Jonathan’s own garden?

‘For me, it’s all those archetypal cottage garden blooms such as delphiniums, lupins and astrantias, and it’s also about fragrance, so I love roses,’ he reveals.

‘Back in May, I was doing wonderful decorations using lily of the valley. When you grow and nurture flowers yourself, they’re so much more characterful because they’ve got twists and bends, they’re not standardised.

‘You also have a different relationship with these flowers. A comment I often receive following a demonstration is: “you seem to handle your plant material as if you have a deep connection to it”.

‘Covid certainly enabled more people to connect to a greater degree with nature, whether it was through tending a window box, a balcony or a garden. As a result, we reached a whole new generation of gardeners, which is fantastic.’

Social media, he agrees, has been a big influence in recent times when it comes to promoting the joys of gardening.

However social media images can often come across as ‘perfect’ images and often with a number of filters used to enhance the image and Jonathan cautions against always striving for perfection as gardening is often trial and error, with plenty of challenges.

‘We saw at RHS Chelsea this year the weeds creeping in and a slightly unkempt feel to gardens which traditionally would have been frowned upon, but is now embraced and celebrated,’ he suggests.

Great British Life: Jonathan visits many gardens both in Derbyshire and across the country jonathan-moseley.comJonathan visits many gardens both in Derbyshire and across the country jonathan-moseley.com

‘I always think with my own garden, it’s not just my garden it’s also for everything that comes in to enjoy it, such as the bees and butterflies. Over the past 20 years this has become a haven for wildlife.’

Always on the lookout for fresh thinking, Jonathan readily acknowledges the inspiration he draws from both amateur and professional gardeners alike.

‘I’m nosy by nature,’ he laughs. ‘I love it when the villages stage open gardens and I’ll try to visit as many as possible.

‘You can also pick up lots of ideas from those gardens included in the National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book. Alexandra Sitwell, for example, has done a great job at Renishaw Hall, in really transforming her garden.

‘It’s a plantsman’s paradise with a charm and a magic within all the different garden rooms; I think of it as an unsung Derbyshire garden hero.’

As someone whose own artistry speaks volumes, there are some final words of wisdom.

‘These days, a garden is what anybody wants it to be and flower arranging is what anybody wants it to be,’ he concludes.

‘Honestly, there’s room for everyone to be who they want to be and what better than expressing this through gardening and arranging flowers.’