A pas­sion for gar­den­ing

Kent Life - - Kent Wildlife Trust - WORDS: Leigh Clapp PHO­TOS: Leigh Clapp

Ever thought about turn­ing your in­ter­est into a ca­reer? Eight Kent

hor­ti­cul­tural ex­perts re­veal the many op­por­tu­ni­ties on of­fer

Did you know that the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try is one of the largest em­ploy­ers in the UK? A ca­reer in hor­ti­cul­ture could mean any­thing from a hands-on gar­dener, a gar­den de­signer, grower or gar­den cen­tre For Viv Hunt, head gar­dener at God­in­ton House and Gar­dens, it was the joy of work­ing with plants and the de­sire to get out of Lon­don, work­ing in stuffy mod­el­mak­ing work­shops, that led her to change her ca­reer.

“I think a lot of peo­ple get into their 30s or 40s, the dreaded midlife cri­sis, and want to change di­rec­tion,” she says.

“There are so many var­ied op­por­tu­ni­ties in hor­ti­cul­ture; it’s a ca­reer you can take in any di­rec­tion that suits you.”

What does your job in­clude? As head gar­dener I do a bit of ev­ery­thing: manag­ing and train­ing a team of gar­den­ers and vol­un­teers, plan­ning plant­ing and de­sign­ing bor­ders, pre­sent­ing the gar­dens to tour groups and school groups, run­ning gar­den­ing work­shops and sea­sonal events and of course main­tain­ing the gar­dens along with the rest of the team.

I re­ally en­joy hav­ing a var­ied day and work­ing with other peo­ple who get a kick out of mak­ing a beau­ti­ful gar­den.

man­ager, to a re­search sci­en­tist.

There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties out there, whether you are a stu­dent look­ing for a study path or a sea-changer want­ing to turn a pas­sion into a ca­reer. Jan­u­ary is a great time to as­sess your life and make New Year res­o­lu­tions The most chal­leng­ing part? Gar­dens nat­u­rally change con­stantly and you are al­ways plan­ning for the fu­ture and think­ing ahead, but I think the most chal­leng­ing part of any job is how you com­mu­ni­cate with and mo­ti­vate other peo­ple and that’s no less true in hor­ti­cul­ture.

What ca­reer ad­vice would you give?

I started by vol­un­teer­ing at a lo­cal Na­tional Trust prop­erty and then took a course at a hor­ti­cul­tural col­lege while work­ing in a large pri­vate gar­den. I’d al­ways ad­vise some for­mal train­ing as it opens up so many more op­por­tu­ni­ties and usu­ally gives you a net­work of con­tacts and sup­port. The most im­por­tant skills are flex­i­bil­ity – both in at­ti­tude and phys­i­cally.

Where are the op­por­tu­ni­ties? There is cer­tainly plenty of work in the South East for well-trained gar­den­ers both in main­te­nance and de­sign and I think that there is much bet­ter recog­ni­tion these days of the skills in­volved and that salaries should re­flect that.

Vol­un­teer­ing at God­in­ton We now have a place for a Pro­fes­sional Gar­den­ers Guild to maybe do some­thing you’ve al­ways had a han­ker­ing for.

Meet some of the pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in the Gar­den of Eng­land to learn what they love about the in­dus­try, where they think the op­por­tu­ni­ties are, and let them in­spire you to join them. trainee each year, which is a full-time po­si­tion with ac­com­mo­da­tion, and we have a large team of vol­un­teers, some of whom are study­ing the RHS cour­ses with lo­cal col­leges or by dis­tance learn­ing.

We try to make sure that they are in­volved in a va­ri­ety of work in the gar­den and we in­clude them in plant iden­ti­fi­ca­tion train­ing, which we do with the PGG stu­dent each week.

BE­LOW: Viv Hunt

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