In 1997, a chance meeting with a life coach made Paul Southern give serious thought to his situation and consider a radical change of career. 2 years later, having returned the company car and spent the final salary cheque, he left his Sales Management position to start an intensive year of retraining for his career in design and planting.
He spent Mondays attending a year long garden design course at The Pickard School of Garden Design in Loughborough under the experienced guidance of Christopher Pickard. Each Wednesday he studied a fast track Royal Horticultural Society general examination course tutored by Lois Amos, who would became Paul's driving force to exam success in all his fields. Paul spent Fridays gaining City and Guilds qualifications in Hard Landscaping at Capel Manor College in Hertfordshire. Paul finished his week after two days of homework between courses with a Saturday job at a local garden centre.