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15 Jun 2018

Growing the next generation of gardeners

A woman crouches in a rose bed, surrounded by rose plants almost up to her shoulders. There are deep pink and white flowers on the shrubs surrounding her.
Nicole Golda, one of our gardeners
With a UK-wide shortage of gardeners, we’re playing our part in growing the next generation of horticultural heroes.

This scheme will help nurture the next generation of talent to care for our charity’s 38 heritage gardens and designed landscapes.

With a worrying shortage of people with the right blend of skills and experience to look after the gardens in our care, we’re being proactive and piloting our own apprenticeship scheme.

The programme, which will initially seek five apprentice gardeners, will be based on the Modern Apprenticeship in Horticulture at SVQ Level 2 and will start in early September 2018. Trainees will be part of the gardening teams at Brodick, Crathes, Culzean, Greenbank, Hill of Tarvit and Kellie Castle for the next two years.

The group will come together regularly throughout the two-year programme for formal training at Oatridge College in West Lothian.

Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening at the National Trust for Scotland is the brains behind the idea. She said: ‘Skills shortage is an issue affecting the whole of the horticulture industry, but it’s particularly important for us to address because we love and care for so many of Scotland’s most significant and important heritage gardens.

‘I originally entered the world of professional gardening by volunteering at Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross but to gain a professional qualification I had to go south of the border. This is a brilliant opportunity for budding horticulturalists to be trained by some of the best in the industry and a chance I would’ve jumped at when I was first starting out.’

The Trust currently employs 70 gardeners and has a history of developing gardening talent through its School of Heritage Gardening at Threave, which has been operational for the past 50 years. However, demand is outstripping supply and extra measures are now being put in place to safeguard the future of Scotland’s heritage gardens.

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this For the Love of Scotland.

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