We are taking a moment to shine the spotlight on a number of the women working as skilled gardeners in Greenwich Park.
A few of the team tell us how they took the plunge to switch occupations and pursue a career in horticulture - and why they have never looked back.
Horticulture is a fantastic career for everyone with keen, green fingers and a love of the outdoors and volunteering is a fantastic way to dip your toes in.
Bev - Contracts Manager
I was home schooling my three children and needed a hobby, so I volunteered at a local garden and at the same time, studied for my RHS qualification. My mother is a keen gardener, so I guess it rubbed off. I’ve always been happier in a natural environment, so feel extremely lucky I get paid for being here!
My day-to-day job is to oversee all our contractor’s staff on the site, allotting jobs and making sure the park is looking good for our visitors. I am now mainly office-based, but I manage to get out and garden at least once a week!
I love being in the park. Every season brings a new beauty and never gets dull! At the moment, I am sitting in my office, listening to the birds singing and feeling grateful for the glorious environment.
My advice to anyone considering a career would be to explore all aspects of horticulture, as it’s a vast industry to explore. Listen and learn from others who have been gardening for a while and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Embrace the rain! It is our friend, and you will dry off! Volunteer in parks or gardens who employ people as a great way in.
Kerry - Skilled Gardener
I’ve always loved plants. I’m 60 and when I was 18, I started a horticulture course, but being ‘exam phobic’ I never completed it. Fast-forward a few years and in 2016 and 2017, I completed and passed my RHS Levels 2 and 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture. I was looking for some work experience which is how I ended up volunteering in Greenwich Park – and now I’m a qualified skilled gardener.
I get to work all over the park, maintaining various beds and areas – but I have a soft spot for the Rock Garden. We do the spring and summer seasons of ‘planting up’ the bedding displays in the flower garden each year. This includes a chance to design two beds each, which is a great way to get to know new plants and experiment with designs.
Working with plants over the seasons and being outside in a beautiful park all day is a dream job. And my advice would be to anyone thinking of a similar career to go for it and don’t leave it for as long as I did. Be prepared for early morning starts and being out in all sorts of weather!
April - Skilled Gardener
Before horticulture I spent most of my working life in a busy sales office and after a long day in the city I couldn’t wait to get home and get out in the garden. I realised that’s where I loved to be and made the decision to study horticulture and do something I love - and I haven’t looked back.
It is my responsibility to maintain the Chris Beardshaw-designed herbaceous border. My duties include weeding, watering, dead-heading, mulching, feeding, pest control, working with volunteers, cutting it all back in winter and replacing plants. I also work around the rest of the park, carrying out various tasks including planting, weeding, pruning, and working on the bedding displays where we have the pleasure of designing and planting our own beds.
Seeing the results and people enjoying what we do is truly wonderful. I love the fact that I am contributing to the welfare of the park and the planet. I love working physically and being outside. Working as a team with like-minded passionate colleagues is such a pleasure.
Before I made a career move, I dipped my toe in and I did some volunteering which I would recommend. This really helped me decide to go for it. I also studied the RHS courses which was invaluable. It’s amazing how much you learn If you’re passionate about what you do. Horticulture is so rewarding, and I would recommend it as a career whole heartedly.