Thursday, 25 August 2016



Gardening and horticulture can be very rewarding both for pleasure, stimulation and also as a great career. We may start off as an apprentice gardener, groundsman, propagator, forester, grower or scientist as horticulture has numerous branches and although the starting point may come with low wages, there is no upper limit to where you want to go. If you just love gardening there are plenty of opportunities for good gardening skills, but if you also want a career then look around to find the path to suit your interests.
RHS Gardens at Wisley
Horticulture today is much more technical and advanced than when I was learning the trade, and there is a lot more information around to help young students choose appropriate directions of career. Gardening was always about learning how to grow good plants, keeping up to date with new varieties, keeping up to date with new technology, and no matter what results we got, we always planned to do better the next year. The internet is a massive help to keep up with the changing world in horticulture, but in my case it had not been invented when I was going through my five year apprenticeship way back in the mists of time. However at that time there was plenty of older well trained gardeners around to advise and guide us in the way of good and proper gardening, and the Dundee Parks manager kept moving us around every nine months so we gained plenty variety of every aspect of
Training starts at an early age
gardening, groundsmanship, forestry, propagation and even a short spell working with the landscape architects. Our day release classes where we got both practical and theoretical training was combined with visits to other horticultural places of interest. These included Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, Inverewe Gardens and the Scottish Crops Research Institute. I was so impressed with the science of horticultural research, that I had a career change, and then enjoyed two years of research at the James Hutton Institute that has had a lasting effect on my gardening activities. I continue today to carry out research into new varieties of plants for our Scottish climate enhanced by global warming. However I had always been flexible so my scientific research ended when I tried a short spell as a teacher of rural science, but then an urge to work on a commercial fruit farm took me down south to Pulborough in West Sussex growing apples, blackcurrants and strawberries. Then it was a year out in full time studies at Essex Institute of Agriculture at Writtle to get my National Diploma before returning as fruit farm manager in Hereford. Two years later I decided to get back into Parks work in Dudley, then as my career advanced in management I went to Darlington for eight years before returning to Scotland to Livingston as a deputy manager in Landscaping and Forestry.
When I started off on my horticultural career I had very little idea of the range of opportunities that existed, but slowly with travelling around the country in the pursuit of furthering my career I have become aware of the extent of horticulture.
A qualified gardener is a great place to start, but forestry, science, plant breeding, floristry, landscape architecture, groundsman and propagator are all great careers as well as lecturers, reporters for gardening magazines, garden designers and growers of fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants. With further studies at the horticultural colleges all around the country managerial positions open up at botanical gardens, landscape companies, parks departments, garden centres, fruit and vegetable farms and plant nurseries. In this area, horticultural career advice can be sought from Dundee College, Elmwood College and Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Today the internet is a great source of information and this link is a good place to start.

Wee jobs to do this week

Broad beans, runner beans and dwarf French beans will all now be ready for picking. The broad beans are harvested in one operation as soon as they mature, but the others are picked over a longer period and either used immediately or if bumper crops are picked the surplus can go into the freezer for use later on.


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