Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition (YHYC)

8 March, 2016

By Franziska Wittenstein HBGTP Trainee Wrest Park

I entered the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition without really knowing what I was getting into. Most people who are horticulturally inclined have heard of it, of course, and though I distantly recalled seeing an article about one of the winners in an issue of Hortweek magazine I was idly thumbing through a few years ago, I did not really know what the acquisition of such a title entailed.

I became interested because Rosie, a fellow HBGTP trainee at Wrest Park, enters every year and has even been a national finalist. It is open to any horticulturist under 30 and thinking it might be fun Rosie and I registered.

On the day of the qualifying test, Rosie and I drove together to Shuttleworth College to take the test. The examiner there was very courteous, even making us each a cup of (excellently brewed) tea, and regaling us with anecdotes of some of his horticultural adventures while we waited to begin.

The test, when it began, surprised me, though I had not had any specific precognition of what it would be like. It seemed to be structured to be very inclusive; the questions varied greatly, covering all aspects of horticulture. I thought it clever that it had been assembled in such a way, for no matter what sort of horticultural background, everyone would have at least a few questions which they could easily answer.

Rosie and I were somewhat nonplussed to find that we had achieved the same score, and had to go to a tie-breaker round. Ultimately, we both lost out to a trainee at another garden, who beat one of us by two points.

Overall, I found the YHYC to be both interesting and challenging. It was fun to measure myself against other people, and although I lost out this time, I would definitely like to enter again next year. To anyone else who feels, like I did, a bit timorous and reluctant to enter, I would encourage you to try it– you may do better than you think.

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