After a career in the City in insurance, Neil Miller made a complete change in life and became a gardener, joining the staff of Hever Castle in Kent in 2002. Remarkably quickly he became the head gardener there, a post he has held since 2006.
He has strong links with Jerusalem Botanic Garden, a 38-acre site in the heart of Jerusalem. Open to all, it walks a delicate line in a politically-charged situation, but manages to attract visitors and volunteers from all communities. It has a unique collection of Mediterranean flora. November is the beginning of the growing season, March the end: the rest of the year is virtually rain-free.
Neil leads a group of students from Hever Castle to the Gardens in November and March most years. He talked about water and the need for irrigation, the multi-faith staff and volunteers, and the remarkable sight of daffodils, roses, and pelargoniums all flowering at the same time. Neil’s contention is that it establishes itself as a top-ten world garden in the view of many of those who visit.
Neil touched on many aspects of Israel and the difficulties and contradictions which the visitor faces. He did however paint a very positive picture of the welcome and the many attractive factors there, and encouraged us all to visit and see for ourselves.