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Otago Polytechnic graduate Morgan Hampton (22), owner of Bluestone Gardeners and Nursery, is in the final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year, along with a finalist from Queenstown and four other competitors under 30 years old from around the country.
The grand final of the competition, in Auckland on November 7 and November 8, pits Mr Hampton - the ''Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year'' - against New Zealand's top young florist, viticulturist, orchardist, landscaper, and the winner of the ''Young Achiever'' category.
Mr Hampton, who undertook a three-year apprenticeship at the Dunedin Botanic Garden, said being outside and ''stimulated all the time'' was what attracted him to horticulture.
''It's great to be able to represent our sector,'' Mr Hampton said.
Based in Sawyers Bay and Mt Cargill, Mr Hampton carries out gardening maintenance and development as well as specialising in growing primulas, succulents and general woodland plants.
He has ''thousands of plants'' at both sites, in a tunnel house at Sawyers Bay and an old woodshed, converted into a shade house, at Mt Cargill.
One day a week he also works at Glenfalloch gardens, on the Otago Peninsula.
Mr Hampton said the competition had a component on running a business including ''a lot of leadership skills and things like that'', which had helped him with the management of his business.
Also competing is Queenstown viticulturist Annabel Bulk, representing NZ Wine.
She said she found working with plants ''fascinating''.
Finalists compete for a prize pool of more than $55,000.