Posted 19th Jun 2018 by Peter Byrne
The National Trust for Scotland has unveiled a new garden apprentice scheme that will help to nurture the next generation of talent to care for its 38 heritage gardens and designed landscapes
There's a worrying shortage of people who have the right blend of skills and experience to care for its gardens, with the National Trust for Scotland decided to be proactive by piloting its own apprenticeship scheme.
The programme will initially seek apprentice gardeners, which will be based on the Modern Apprenticeship in Horticulture at SVQ Level 2 and will start in early September 2018.
Trainees are to be a part of the charity's gardening teams at Brodick, Crathes, Culzean, Greenbank, Hill of Tarvit and Kellie Castle for the next two years.
The group comes together regularly throughout the two-year programme for formal training at Oatridge College in West Lothian.
Ann Steele, head of heritage gardening at the National Trust for Scotland is the brains behind the idea - she said: "Skills shortage is an issue affecting the whole of the horticulture industry, but it’s particularly important for us to address because we love and care for so many of Scotland’s most significant and important heritage gardens."
"I originally entered the world of professional gardening by volunteering at Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross but to gain a professional qualification I had to go south of the border. This is a brilliant opportunity for budding horticulturalists to be trained by some of the best in the industry and a chance I would’ve jumped at when I was first starting out."
As it stands, the National Trust for Scotland currently employs 70 gardeners and has a history of developing gardening talent through its School of Heritage Gardening at Threave, which has been operational for the past 50 years. However, the demand is outstripping the supply, with extra measures now being put in place to safeguard the future of Scotland's heritage gardens.
Simon Skinner, chief executive of National Trust for Scotland said: "We’re growing the next generation of gardeners, as part of our new five year strategy, so that our gorgeous gardens can flourish. This is just one of the ways the National Trust for Scotland is protecting Scotland’s national and natural and built heritage and conserving it for generations to come, all for the love of Scotland."