Josie Jeffery describes herself as a 33 year old mother of three, first time author and a gardener. “I have studied horticulture” she explains, “but ‘horticulturist’ sounds a bit grand, I’m aware there is still so much for me to learn.” Her modesty is as endearing as her story is inspirational.
“My parents have always been interested in gardening and my Mum used to treat us with herbs that she foraged from wilderness walks. We lived in a bus and travelled around Europe busking as a family when I was young and then when I was about 14, Dad bought some land on a hill, in the middle of nowhere in Carmarthenshire and parked the bus on it. There were no buildings just a tap,” she explains enthusiastically, “we were so proud of our tap.”
“ I have always felt very close to Nature and in Wales I was young enough to enjoy exploring but old enough to appreciate it all. When the farmer decided to sell his farmhouse he said that Mum and Dad had first dibs as they had 5 kids! Dad bought the house with busking money.”
Although Josie didn’t go to school, she did go to Art College, in Llanelli, where she admits she struggled at first. “I had never written an essay and didn’t know about the format; but I got there in the end,” she adds cheerfully “and I went onto Carmarthen College to study sculpture. There, I met the father of my boys and when he decided to study architecture in London, we all moved from Wales to Brighton.”
Missing the countryside and studying, Josie enrolled on a horticulture course at Stanmore Park, as the campus was in the middle of beautiful parkland which backed onto countryside. For her work experience she spent two years at Architectural Plants in Horsham, where they had a micro propagation laboratory. “I was offered some work in the lab and it was whilst I was working in the lonely, sterile environment with my radio that I heard a story about ‘seed bombs’ (an ingenious way of spreading seeds that will germinate successfully) that had been around in the 16th Century. I was intrigued by the idea but was still in college and at the time was busy researching Plant Hunters, which I also found fascinating. I learned about the Tradescants (horticultural pioneers) and how they collected plants and took such good care of them on their incredible journeys. I was really inspired and found out that the Tradescants were buried in Lambeth Church. The Church was due to be knocked down in 1977, the year I was born, but enough money was raised to turn it into a Museum of Garden History instead. I ended up volunteering to take children’s workshops there and started to teach them about the seed bombs I had heard about earlier. It was at a workshop that I met a commissioning editor who asked me to write a book about seed bombs. It’s all been really random but amazing,” she laughs.
“I know people talk about taking opportunities but I think I have always grabbed mine; maybe because my life wasn’t mapped out for me at a school I have trusted more and taken random paths. One of my proudest moments was when someone from South Africa ordered my book. I still pinch myself, I have no GCSE’s but I have a book published and I’ve just been asked to write two more.”
Find out more about Josie and her fabulous seed bombs at www.seedfreedom.net; you can also order ‘Seedbombs: Going Wild with Flowers’ from her website or from www.leapingharepress.co.uk for just £9.99