Elizabeth Whateley trained as a teacher and taught needlework and dress-making in comprehensive schools for many years, until those subjects were removed from the curriculum. During her time as a teacher, and while bringing up three children, she developed an interest in garden design and attended several weekend and evening courses on the subject. After taking early retirement from teaching, she enrolled on John Brookes's intensive garden design course at Denmans, West Sussex, and set up as a freelance garden designer. In 1991 Elizabeth became a Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers (MSGD) and served on the Society's Adjudication Panel for five years and its Council for three years. She has designed a wide variety of gardens in south-east England and specializes in putting plans out to tender and overseeing landscape contractors' work in larger gardens.