Garden School:

Garden School:
Teaching this week: Assessing a new garden, and when to say "No" !

Trainee Opportunity

WANTED: Trainee Gardener.

Do you want to be a self-employed Professional Gardener? But do you feel that you lack experience and knowledge - or maybe you've never been self-employed before, and are not sure how to do it?

Our annual one-year trainee placement will shortly be open for the next applicant.

The aim of this trainee placement (please note - this is NOT an apprenticeship) is to give a flying start to someone who wants to work in horticulture and who maybe feels they lack the skills or experience to apply for "proper" gardening jobs, or to set themselves up as a self-employed Gardener.

The placement is for two mornings a week, for minimum wage, in a garden just outside Wantage.

We are looking for someone who will commit to a year of low wages with us, for two mornings a week, in return for top class tuition in all aspects of gardening and of being self-employed.

Must have transport, be non-smoker, and have some gusto. It's moderately hard physical work, outdoors, all year round: no whingers or whiners, and be warned, you won't be allowed to check your phone at all, while you are working!

No experience necessary (although obviously, a keen interest in being a gardener is essential!) as I will teach you absolutely everything you need to know. Would also suit someone who is maybe currently just mowing, and would like to move up to horticultural gardening: or possibly a career-changer.

Here are the details, from the Garden Owners:

"We are looking for someone energetic and enthusiastic, who wants to be a self-employed gardener but feels that they don't have the experience or knowledge.

Our trainee could be a young person who is keen to get into horticulture, or maybe a career-changer: we're not fussy about age etc as long as you are keen to learn, and willing to work.

Our Trainee will work alongside our Head Gardener, Rachel, for two mornings a week, and will learn all aspects of gardening, in a very hands-on manner. Obviously an interest in plants and a desire to be a gardener are essential, but don't worry if you feel you lack plant knowledge, as Rachel loves teaching!

Why do we want a trainee? Our garden is slightly too big for one person alone, and having a trainee gives us an extra pair of hands, while allowing us to put resources into training and encouraging people into horticulture. We hope to have a trainee who will be with us for about a year: during this time they will be encouraged to gradually take on gardening jobs at other locations, to fill their week, so by the end of their placement, they should be totally confident in all aspects of gardening, and of being self-employed.

Why “about a year”? By working with us for a year, our Trainee will be able to experience the plants through all their seasons: proper gardening goes on all year round! There is no contract or compulsion to stay for a whole year, we just want them to have the chance to work through all the seasons, to fully understand what goes on in gardening throughout the year.

The successful applicant will be our fourth trainee.

Post: 8 hours a week, 8am-12 noon Tuesdays and Thursdays, at slightly over minimum wage.

In return for your commitment to work for two half-days at a low wage, you will receive first class training in all aspects of gardening.

Trainee will need to provide:

- Public Liability insurance (£50-100/year)

- Stout footwear, suitable coat/jacket/clothing for working outdoors

- Gloves - several pairs!

...and will need to be registered as self-employed. As such, they will pay their own taxes and National Insurance.

We have guard dogs on the estate, so not being allergic to dogs (or cats/chickens/cattle!) is necessary, as is being a non-smoker, and having their own transport, as the location (just outside Wantage) is quite rural.

We will provide:

- Use of other tools ie Daisy Grubber, hoe, rake and garden fork until the Trainee is able to acquire their own.

- Advice and demonstrations on the most suitable tools for each person - so don't rush out and buy tools if you don't already have them!

- Intensive one-to-one training, easing off over time to mere supervision, as their confidence grows.

When selecting a Trainee, preference will be given to an applicant who is either already studying the RHS Level 2, or is about to start the course: at present, Witney college do this course on a Wednesday, which fits in very nicely.

The house and gardens are set in a peaceful small village, just outside the Cotswolds, with far-ranging views across our own fields to the Oxford plain.

The formal gardens are large enough to offer a wide variety of tasks, but of a size that would not be intimidating to a Trainee: in addition, some of the planting is due for renewal/renovation, which will allow the Trainee to experience not just ongoing maintenance, but changes and enhancements, with the chance to participate in the process.

The placement will not include mowing: you won't have to do that!

The garden is run on mainly organic principles, but we are not adverse to using chemicals minimally, where necessary.

Our Head Gardener, Rachel, has experience with nurturing trainees, as well as extensive teaching experience, and is looking forward to working with our fourth long-term Trainee, who can see the garden through all the seasons, and can appreciate how the management of the plants changes over time: both within a season, and - from examples in the garden - in the longer term.

Right from the start of the placement, our Trainee will be shown how to assess their workload, decide on priorities and how to plan out their time in order to work efficiently, and they will be given a fair amount of responsibility and the freedom to work on their own, while still being supervised and encouraged at every step.

The garden itself is delightful: a small manor house with private grounds, not open to the public, and the formal gardens contain a wide variety of elements, including clipped box topiary, larger yew topiary and extensive hedging, herbaceous borders, rose beds, formal beds, informal wildflower areas etc.

We have big plans to enhance and change the gardens, giving our Trainee the chance to try their hand at garden design as well as to learn all the practical skills of remodelling borders: this is not a weed-all-day maintenance job, this is very much a practical course in everything it takes to be a really good gardener!"


In the first instance, email me, briefly introducing yourself, giving me a few details about where you see yourself going, and how you would benefit from this Trainee placement.

If you are not able to take a year out to undertake training, I do offer one-to-one Practical Gardening Experience days.  This is where you spend one whole day with me, and you are allowed to ask as many questions as you like!

This day is normally tailored to people who are considering going self-employed, but are not quite sure exactly what it entails, but they can also be taken by anyone who feels they lack experience of certain aspects of gardening for themselves, and would like to do some practical training in how to do various garden jobs.

In both cases, the cost is £150. and for this you get a three-hour afternoon in one of "my" gardens, during which time I am completely at your disposal: we can tackle some particular task or tasks which have been bothering you; we can discuss aspects of gardening and how they apply to a "real" garden; or you can just ask questions non-stop. 

In the morning we do Work Experience, where you come along with me to a real Client, and work along side me for the four-hour morning, which is free: this is where you see how I interact with a real Client, how I assess my workload, how I do a variety of jobs, how I deal with any problems which may arise. Again, you may ask as many questions as you like!

If this is of interest, please email me to discuss details. The email address is at the top of the page, on the right.  (If I type it out within the body of the site, I get tons of spam...)

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