skip to main content
The Royal Parks web site uses cookies. By browsing you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Read our cookie policy

Apply for this year's scheme

Visit the Horticultural Apprenticeship Scheme web page for full details of the scheme and links to the online application forms.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 15 March 2020.

Malachi Yarker, 23, is a third-year apprentice based in Hyde Park

Third year apprentice Malachi Yarker currently works in Hyde Park

Collecting his Glendale Award from Shereen Marlow, Contract Manager for Glendale Services (sponsors of the Award)

In 2019, Malachi won the Glendale Award for Best Horticultural Apprentice. His lecturer Leanne Estall at Capel Manor College nominated him and said he was an ‘outstanding student and employee’ who was the first one to show up in the morning to class, and that his eagerness to learn meant that he regularly asked for additional work beyond his regular studies.

Below we find out more about him:

I’m a nature enthusiast

I applied to be an apprentice in part because I love wildlife. In my spare time I love visiting nature reserves and photographing different species of birds. My favourite Royal Park is Richmond Park due to its wildness.

We give the environment a helping hand

Part of the job is creating and maintaining habits for the thousands of species that flourish in the parks, like creating log piles for invertebrates. We’ve also just undertaken a big project in Hyde Park planting 80,000 naturalising bulbs. By ‘naturalising’ we mean allowing bulbs to grow as they would in the wild – so not placing them in any formation and not putting them in any bedding schemes. We’ve chosen species such as narcissus and bluebells for their aesthetics but also because they are good pollinators.

Without experience it’s hard to find a job in horticulture

Before this apprenticeship I had no direct work experience in horticulture. This scheme has enabled me to learn on the job and study for the internationally recognised RHS 2 qualifications, meaning my job prospects are good when I graduate. My hope is to secure permanent employment within the Hyde Park team.

A highlight of the apprenticeship for me is designing and planting flower beds

Just recently I designed a winter bed for an area of Hyde Park by Lancaster Gate. When designing a flower bed, you have to take into account seasonality, aesthetics and biodiversity – for example I have no double flowers in the design to enable access to pollinators.

Second year apprentice Selina Tan is based in Richmond Park.

Second year apprentice Selina Tan is based in Richmond Park

In 2018 Selina Tan, 26, left her job as a photo editor  to join the Richmond Park team as an apprentice.

It might sound obvious, but my favourite Royal Park is Richmond Park

It has this untouched quality and calmness that is hard to come by in London. If it wasn’t Richmond Park, I would say St James’s Park. The park has a colourful history and there are pockets of fascinating horticulture such as the quaint vegetable garden and the tropical border with its statuesque Echiums.

I became interested in horticulture through my love of cooking

Growing up with a mother in the food industry, meant that cooking was second nature to me. This evolved to being interested in where our food comes from and how ingredients are produced.

A highlight of my apprenticeship is planting trees

Knowing they will outlive me and the positive impact they will have on the park and the people that visit is really special. I also love observing the changing of the seasons, and noticing every little in transition in the plants as the weather changes.

But really, it’s the people that work here that make the apprenticeship really special

The team I work with have consistently supported me and championed me from the moment I started. They are always willing to take time out of their busy days to show me what is in flower or the best way to mow straight lines. I also love meeting up with my fellow apprentices at Capel Manor College once a week.

Ask lots of questions if you are selected to attend the Apprenticeship Open Day

It’s important to understand what the apprenticeship will involve. It’s a big commitment juggling studies whilst working.

*Photographer Monica R.Goya visited Richmond Park every month in 2019 to document Selina's experience as a Royal Parks apprentice. You can view it here.

First year apprentice Aimee Spanswick is based in The Regent’s Park

First year apprentice based in The Regent's Park.

In 2019, apprentice Aimee Spanswick, 35, left her job as a Customer Services Administrator, to follow her dream of working in the horticultural industry:

I’ve always had an interest in horticulture

My parents cultivated a love of the land and encouraged me from a young age to grow simple vegetables and flowers. In my mid-twenties my passion intensified, and I became particularly concerned about the vegetables I was buying. I was lucky enough to acquire an allotment when I lived in Northampton where I learnt about the importance of soil health and prevention of pests and diseases.

I wanted to get into the industry, but I didn’t know how

Before hearing about the Royal Parks Apprenticeship Scheme, I couldn’t see a way into horticulture for an unqualified gardener in London as most vacancies required at least two years’ experience. This scheme offers me a regular income and a hands-on approach to study, getting me to the level required to pursue a career relatively quickly.

There are lots of opportunities to expand your skills

There are opportunities to attend workshops at other Royal Parks and get involved with creative garden design. In the second year of your apprenticeship you study propagation at the Hyde Park nursery which grows 450,000 plants for all eight Royal Parks!

Recently, one of my colleagues suggested that I plant a bedding design for winter at the waterside. With support and guidance, I arranged and planted a good-sized bed within two days. I had to be mindful of composition, symmetry and colour for the design to be effective and I think it turned out very well in the end. The process was really enjoyable, it has been one of my favourite projects so far.

Be prepared to study for at least six hours a week

You will be expected to conduct learning in your own time. This includes learning ten plant names in Latin every fortnight. It sounds scary and I was intimidated at first, but you will be surprised how quickly you will learn and remember the names.

Before you apply consider which Royal Park you want to work in

If you are not set on a particular park, then visit all eight to see which is the right fit for you. Consider your interests, the park’s location, the commute and weigh up the pros and cons.

*This article was written in February 2020.

Apply for this year's scheme

Visit the Horticultural Apprenticeship Scheme web page for full details of the scheme and links to the online application forms.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 15 March 2020.

Help us improve our website by providing your feedback.