He became a garden boy, and in 1823 he obtained a position at the Horticultural Society's Chiswick Gardens which was adjacent to the Duke's garden at Chiswick House. One day they met, and on impulse, the Duke offered the 23 year old Joseph Paxton the position of Head Gardener at Chatsworth.
On his first morning at Chatsworth, Paxton met Sarah Bown, the housekeeper's niece, and they got married. He also enjoyed a very friendly relationship with the "Bachelor Duke".
In 1837, Paxton started the Great Conservatory which became the model for the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851. At the time, the Conservatory was the largest glass building in the world. However, it was prohibitively expensive to heat, and it was destroyed in 1923. It took five attempts to blow it up.
There were several other large projects, such as the Arboretum, the Great Fountain, the Rock Garden and the Lily House.
In 1831, Paxton published a monthly magazine, The Horticultural Register. This was followed in 1834 by the Magazine of Botany. There followed in 1840 the Pocket Botanical Dictionary, The Flower Garden in 1850 and the Calendar of Gardening Operations.
He died in 1865.