Romke Van De Kaa
Gardens Illustrated|October 2017

The accidental gardener who worked at Great Dixter, ran a nursery with Piet Oudolf and is now one of the Netherlands’ most respected garden journalists

John Hoyland
Nothing in my career has been planned,” says Romke van de Kaa. “My life has been a series of chance encounters and lucky twists of fortune. Like in a garden, it is sometimes better not to plan too much, to learn how to just let things happen.”

Serendipity has taken Romke into beautiful gardens and to work with the great gardening personalities of the past 50 years. He is now a journalist in the Netherlands, and many Dutch gardeners will tell you that they get their gardening advice from Romke’s articles.

Although as a child he had a small garden plot of his own Romke was more interested in the wild flora and fauna around the dunes near his home in the Netherlands. He went to university to study marine biology and imagined a life investigating the seas. Love intervened and when his English girlfriend was feeling homesick Romke decided that he should move to Britain.

“This was before the Common Market and I didn’t know how I would earn a living,” he explains. Since the age of 11, though, he had worked every school holiday in the bulb fields of the Van Tubergen company, so gardening seemed a possibility. “I knew about bulbs and thought maybe I could get work as a gardener so I asked the nurseryman Michael Hoog to give me a letter of recommendation.”

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