Still time to apply for expanded Trust apprentice gardeners

Company: National Trust for Scotland
  • The 2018 crop of apprentice gardeners have gained lots of skills and experience
  • Gardens apprentices with Colin Wren, gardens designed landscape manager, Edinburgh.
  • Gardens apprentice Timothy Turnbull based at Crathes Castle
  • Gardens apprenticeship

The closing date for the National Trust for Scotland’s expanded gardens apprentice is fast approaching, but there’s still time to apply for one of these opportunities across Scotland to help meet the UK-wide shortage of professional heritage gardeners.

The conservation charity which cares for Scotland’s national and natural treasures, has been nurturing horticultural talent for the industry for nearly 60 years through its School of Heritage Gardening at Threave from where students have gone on to roles from science to commerce, landscaping to lecturing.

However, the demand for top gardeners across the country exceeds the numbers choosing to enter the profession. Having experienced this shortage itself, last year the Trust launched its pilot Gardens Apprentice training programme to help grow more young talent. The scheme is offering more placements in 2019 and applications are open until Monday 1 July.

The programme is based on the Modern Apprenticeship in Horticulture at SVQ Level 2 and the next intake will start with the Trust at the end of August 2019.

Trainees will be part of the Trust’s gardening teams at Branklyn Garden, Culzean Castle & Country Park, Inverewe Garden, Pitmedden Garden and Harmony/Priorwood Gardens for the next 2 years. They will all come together periodically for the formal part of the training, which will be delivered by Scotland’s Rural College at Oatridge College, West Lothian. The SVQ units selected are aimed at heritage, botanic or private gardens and the Trust hopes some of these organisations will join in too, feeling encouraged and enabled to take on their own apprentices.

Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening with the Trust is the driver behind this initiative and said: “Professional gardening can be such a rewarding career. You get the chance to work with beautiful plants in special places, steeped in history and artistry, immersed in nature every day. On top of that you get to see the genuine pleasure people derive from relaxing and enjoying the results of your work.”

Timothy Turnbull one of the current Gardens Apprentices at Crathes said: ‘‘Applying to this apprenticeship was one of, if not the best decision I’ve ever made. I really enjoy the variety of the jobs from the detail in the glasshouse to the hard landscaping tasks, all while constantly learning new skills and gaining insight into how an estate is maintained.”

The closing date for this year’s applications is Monday 1 July 2019. If you are or know of a young person interested in applying, visit and search under ‘find a Job’.

Full job descriptions and application forms can be found online

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