Shelley snaps up a new career

February 02 2015

TO say Shelley Everett is passionate about flowers and foliage, it would be a huge understatement ... It once took the Redland resident over an hour to walk from her home to Gloucester Road, because she was too absorbed in admiring people's front gardens and taking photographs of plants and flowers.

TO say Shelley Everett is passionate about flowers and foliage, it would be a huge understatement ... It once took the Redland resident over an hour to walk from her home to Gloucester Road, because she was too absorbed in admiring people's front gardens and taking photographs of plants and flowers.

"I remember spotting this dying shrub," Shelley recalled. "From far away all you could see was its tiny shrivelled brown leaves, but as I zoomed in closer with my camera, there were the most incredible colours emerging through its tips. The oldest plants are often the most beautiful."

Late last summer, Shelley realised it was time for a career change and left her job at Prince's Trust, where she worked for 11 years, helping unemployed young people start up their own business.

She decided to follow her dream of becoming a gardener and garden photographer, and since taking the plunge, her passion has only blossomed.

"At my old job, you could spot my desk from a mile away because it was covered in plants. When I felt it was time for a change, going on to start up my own business felt like a natural progression."

She added: "I have always loved gardening. Gardens do great things for your well-being - it's great for the soul and very grounding. It's a place where you can process feelings and emotions."

Shelley, who fits in part time study at RHS Level 2 also recently discovered that she is a third generation gardener - her great uncle owned a nursery in Surrey where he bred dahlias.

“It was like the final piece of a puzzle fell into place, and I realised that perhaps this was why it felt so right to become a gardener, and perhaps why I have always been drawn to photographing flowers”.

Out of all aspects of her new job, gardening for older people is Shelley's passion.

"Some residents have cared for their garden for 40 or 50 years, and I love being able to help them keep their garden looking how they wish," she explained. "Whether it's lawn mowing, weeding, pruning roses that are out of reach - I tailor my work to ensure it meets their needs."

Once a week, Shelley also volunteers at the Penny Brohn Cancer Centre, helping to maintain its gardens.

Despite having only brought her first digital camera in 2010, Shelley's photography - which captures intricate details of plants and insects through using a magnified lens - has gained recognition in the Guardian online, came third place prize in the Westonbirt Arboretum Autumn Competition and she has also been offered mentoring from Clive Nichols, one of the UK's leading garden photographers.

While her best-loved piece of nature to photograph is bumblebees, alpines remain her favourite plant.

“They hold the biggest secrets. It’s the alpines that when viewed through a magnified lens offer up the most breath-taking colours and shapes, it’s like a secret world of beauty that is all around us, but unseen”.

Shelley now sells her photography and will be exhibiting her work at the Better Food Company in St Werburghs from February 8 to March 7, as well as the Royal Horticultural Society's Malvern Spring Show, May 7-10.

As a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, each bumblebee print or card Shelley sells, she donates 10% of the price to the charity.

To view her online gallery, visit: www.flickr.com/shelleyeverett. To enquire about gardening services call 07811 405510, email: hello@shelleyeverett.co.uk or visit www.shelleyeverett.co.uk where you can also purchase photography.

Shelley Everett