Student Spotlight: Callum Corrie

A competitor that expects nothing less than gold.

The Unlikely Journey of Callum Corrie

Callum always knew what he wanted to do but it had nothing to do with gardening. Callum Corrie is a semi-professional wrestler and a 5 times champ in the ring! 

Growing up he liked the outdoors and was always adventurous and playful. He got a job as a gardener and although he was outside, he didn’t enjoy the work. He was mowing lawns and weeding, and it just wasn’t stimulating enough. He then moved on to groundwork, which was gardening on a bigger scale using bigger machines, but what was missing was the creative aspect. Once lockdown hit, Callum found himself at a loose end but like a moth to the flame, he found himself gravitating to the only thing that was open. The garden centre! 

It was there, among the plants and pots, that something clicked. He suddenly felt that this was where he wanted to be.

Discovering a Passion

Callum has not left the wrestling ring, but such an extreme level of physicality and competitiveness will always need to be counterbalanced. It was in the tranquility of garden design that Callum found his balance. Not knowing how long the lockdowns would last, Callum discovered the online option at the British Academy of Garden Design (BAGD). It was perfect. 

He has always been interested in art and has found a very calming peace in sitting in his garden listening to the birds chirping as he sketches out a garden design plan. For the first year of his studies in BAGD Callum would visit all the flower shows including Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton but 2023 was the first year he entered as a competitor. 

Although a fiercely physical competitor in the ring, Callum has a quietly confident demeanor and inside that competitor is maturity. When he entered the Tatton Flower Show he told himself not to be disappointed if his first entry is not selected. Callum knows that success doesn’t happen overnight.

But of course, it was selected! 

From Spectator to Competitor: Callum's Entry into Tatton Flower Show

Callum’s entry into Tatton Flower Show is a border design with oak window frames that he rescued from a dumpster and upcycled to their former glory. They are beautiful church windows that serve as a support for his climbing plants. 

He had spotted the ornate Victorian frames in a skip, ready for burning and just had to rescue them.  He had no idea what he was going to do with them, but he just couldn’t let such a thing of beauty be destroyed.  For a year they sat in his shed waiting for inspiration. 

The Tatton Flower Show is 15 minutes from Callum’s home and is a firm favorite to visit. When he mustered up the courage to enter, he was too late for the Young Designer category, but the Large Border competition was open, and so he went for it. Like many of his ideas, he was mulling over what he would do when boom! It just popped into his head. His old window frames would be perfect!

With the help of dad and some good mates, he upcycled the frames with resin and sanded them back so he could re-distress them. This process would maintain the aged charm of the wood while protecting their integrity. Then, with the help of his girlfriend Becky, they began selecting plants. He put sweet peas on one side and balanced it with logs on the other. Callum’s “5 Senses Wildflower” verge was born. 

The patient calm of garden design versus the intense rage and physicality of wrestling may seem like two professions at odds with one another, but as one counterbalances the other, Callum finds great harmony in absorbing himself in both. He is strong but sweet, competitive but generous and all of this is reflected in his designs. 

On judging day there was a delay and Callum’s entry was not going to be judged until the next day.  The delay was agonizing and for the first time, he felt the nerves of expectation. He had been calm up until asked to vacate the space. As he walked around observing the competition, he was struck by the high standard of design and began to think he didn’t stand a chance against the amazing competition. When the judges finally came back with an entourage and a decision, he was convinced there was no chance of a prize. 

The gold medal reduced Becky to tears and made Callum want to jump from the top ropes! And the high standard made his win even sweeter. Although over the moon with a gold medal, Callum says the big win for him was the confidence he felt from all the visitors admiring his design. The gold was the cherry on top, but the people were the real boost.

Champion in Many Arenas

Tatton was July 2023 and Callum is already reaping the benefits. People are hiring him to design their gardens and he is now one step closer to his dream of travelling the world, competing in the wrestling ring for as long as his body allows, and designing gardens all around the globe.

Winning is not new to Callum and although wrestling and garden design may seem like worlds apart, his win in Tatton had a surprisingly similar sense of achievement as winning a belt in the wrestling ring. It was something he trained for, something he earned and something he continues to learn! 

People can be more than one thing and can be champions in many arenas. You just have to take that leap and get your hands dirty!

Are you looking to start a career in garden design? Check out our courses

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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