Most of our places are now open. Find a place to visit near you.

See all stories
11 Jun 2019

The Trust wants to grow more gardeners!

Written by Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening
Our 2018 Garden Apprentices
We’re growing our Garden Apprentice scheme with new opportunities across Scotland to help meet the UK-wide shortage of professional gardeners for heritage gardens.

Succession planning for gardens is not just about sowing lettuces a few weeks apart or planting trees for following generations to enjoy. For garden owners and managers, like the National Trust for Scotland, it’s increasingly about facing up to the challenge of ensuring there’ll be a pool of people with the right blend of skills and experience to care for our heritage places in the future.

The Trust has been nurturing horticultural talent for the industry for nearly 60 years through our 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 ourselves, last year we launched our pilot Garden Apprentice training programme to help grow more young talent. We’re delighted to be able to offer more placements in 2019 and applications are now being sought.

Garden Apprentice Adam Penman at Hill of Tarvit Mansion & Garden
Garden Apprentice Adam Penman at Hill of Tarvit Mansion & Garden

The programme is based on the Modern Apprenticeship in Horticulture at SVQ Level 2, and our next intake will start working with us at the end of August 2019. Trainees will be part of the Trust’s gardening teams at Branklyn, Culzean, Inverewe, Pitmedden and Harmony/Priorwood Gardens for the next 2 years. They will come together periodically for the formal part of the training, which will be delivered by SRUC at Oatridge College in West Lothian. The SVQ units selected are aimed at heritage, botanic or private gardens, and the Trust hopes some other organisations will join in too, feeling encouraged and enabled to take on their own apprentices.

Our Garden Apprentice at Crathes, Timothy Turnbull, says: ‘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.’

Garden Apprentice Timothy Turnbull at Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate
Garden Apprentice Timothy Turnbull at Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate
“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.”
Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening

The Trust’s Head of Heritage Gardening, Ann Steele, is the driver behind this initiative. She continues: ‘You’re 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 – what’s not to like?!’

How to apply

The closing date for applications is Monday 1 July 2019. If you are, or know of a young person, interested in applying, please search our vacancies page.

Join our Gardens team

Search for vacancies near you now