Queen Charlotte Sound, Picton, New Zealand,

Chris Howells: Garden Designer

My passion for nature has been with me for as long as I can remember. I grew up surrounded by natural countryside, with a breath-taking view of Almscliffe Crag and the valley of the river Wharfe directly behind my house near Harrogate.

I was always green fingered – and thumbed! My grandfather was a keen gardener and I learned over the years how to shape and tend to a wide variety of plants.

My education choices never really suited what I was eventually to do. I’m not sure why or how I never took Art & Design or Design Technology as a main subject. Strange how life works out.

I travelled a lot in my twenties and thirties in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. I then came to live in beautiful  New Zealand, where this photo was taken. From deserts to glaciers and valleys to volcanoes, I’ve seen  them all.

Twenty two years after leaving school, here I am, working outside almost every day of my life. Nature has become my office. In a world full of technology, I consider myself very fortunate to work with the oldest and most natural material in the world, earth. Why would anyone choose Astroturf?

My company, ‘Down To Earth’ has been involved in a wide variety of projects in garden design, wildlife conservation areas, forestry and creating outdoor school classrooms where children can be given the opportunity to connect with nature.  So take me to any patch of earth anywhere on the planet and that’s my place.