What employment sector do you work in?

Academia Sector

How long have you had a green job for nature?

20 years

Salary Range

£30,001 – £40,000

Please describe the work that you do.

I’m the Head Gardener at Winterbourne, leading a team of 6 gardeners and up to 20 volunteers. We have 7 acres of garden to manage including lawns, greenhouses, vegetable beds, flower borders and meadows. It’s my job to ensure the team has everything they need to
keep the gardens looking great.

What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?

I love the fact that the job is so varied and really allows me to deploy a wide variety of skills and be really creative. I also love the ‘instant’ feedback we receive from visitors. So many people stop me to tell me how much they love the garden. That’s a real motivational boost and a constant reminder of what a privilege it is to share the garden with so many other like-minded people. The biggest challenge is that my ambition often exceeds the resources at my disposal. I’d love to do more and to do it bigger and better, but as with any job, I’m restricted by the limits of time and money.

What inspired you into this career? 

I started growing veg when I was in primary encouraged by my parents and in particular my grandad who had been a champion-winning vegetable grower himself for many years. I soon started entering competitions myself and have been hooked ever since. I don’t enter horticultural shows anymore but I still grow plenty of veg at home just like I did when I first started gardening all of those years ago.

Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far? 

I didn’t drive during the early part of my career (I only passed my test a couple of years ago in my 30s) and as I live in a very urban area where horticultural jobs are limited in terms of volume, this really inhibited my opportunities to move around and take on different roles in different localities.

What education/training did you have?

I studied geography and art at school and then later Amenity Horticulture at College. I also trained at the nearby Birmingham Botanical Gardens where I gained really great experience and was exposed to a huge number of different plants from all around the world. I joined Winterbourne as a trainee too, and have moved through the different roles here since, developing my skills, and assuming more and more responsibility at each stage.

What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession? 

Gain as much as varied experience as possible to find out what you really enjoy. You could volunteer at one of your big, local parks or gardens, get yourself an allotment, help out in a community or school garden, or even get a weekend job at your local garden centre or nursery.

Tags: England, Academia, Project manager

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