Feedback from Trainees

Feedback on the HBGTP is overwhelmingly and enthusiastically positive. Our trainees value the sheer range of practical skills they acquire over the course, the friends and professional contacts they make, and the chance to expand their technical knowledge, including plant identification.

A selection of our trainees’ comments appear below.

“The HBGTP has given me the opportunity to spend two years working in one of the world’s most exciting gardens. I have been able to foster a love of plants, learn skills and gain experience that you could never learn out of a book. The study blocks have allowed me to meet a bunch of interesting people and the qualifications the scheme provides are an added bonus. Following studies at university, the chance to continue learning, and to be paid to do so, seemed like an amazing opportunity. I would encourage anyone to consider the HBGTP as the best way to enter a rewarding and stimulating profession.”

Jonny Bruce, Great Dixter 2014-16

“It has been particularly beneficial being able to spend extended amounts of time focusing on particular skills rather than just a day or a morning. I particularly appreciated being able to spend time pruning fruit trees, climbers and shrubs and now feel more confident about tackling these plants.”

Francis Keeton, Threave 2010-11

“I learnt new practical skills such as safe chainsaw operation, fruit pruning and planning a vegetable garden. I gained more experience and built on existing skills in areas such as tractor driving, spraying and propagation.”

Kate Barnard, Leith Hall 2010-11

“Better plant identification and knowledge, experience with machines such as tractors and mowers, planning a task, what tools to take and how long it will take a job to get done and what order to do it in. Time management. Working to a professional standard (setting up bed edges correctly, building a show garden, growing on plants etc.). New friends and contacts that I can call for help in the future and invaluable advice on what to do and where to go next.”

Tamara Bridge, Sandringham 2010-11

“Developed my confidence, expanded my knowledge, gained experience of managing volunteers and enabled me to research into certain aspects of horticulture.”

Vanessa Simon, Nymans 2010-11
Currently employed there full-time

“The two seminar weekends were excellent, packed full of interesting lectures. The gardens that we visited were fascinating. I was pleased that my employer the National Trust paid for my PA1, PA6 and tractor handling course. These were excellent opportunities for Personal Development.

Some of the events held at the property were very pleasing. These including testing sessions in the walled garden, apple pressing, potting plants with the public, and working with school parties. these presented great chances to engage the public. Greatly increased my knowledge of Plants, Including the taxonomy and practical horticultural skills required for their care. Working for the National Trust gave me an excellent insight into the Heritage sector.

I feel that I learnt invaluable knowledge about conservation and ecology. I also greatly improved my knowledge of native flora and fauna. The projects allowed me to develop many important skills. These included developing maintenance schedules, design, planting plans, costing, and constructing leaflets. Lots of chances to gain Professional Development on various courses and gained valuable work experience working in six other prestigious gardens. Greatly increased my contacts with many relevant societies such as the Professional Gardeners’ Guild and Plant Network.

My HBGBS placement has been an excellent professional experience all round. Possibly the biggest success of my placement was the fact that it helped me succeed in gaining a place on the Longwood International Gardener Training Program. I started this the day after my HBGBS placement finished.”

James Miller, Beningbrough Hall 2010-11 Currently on Longwood International Gardener Training Program, USA

Most pleased about placement: “The encouragement of others, Workshops provided by the garden. The practical work!”

New job: “I work for the gardens and grounds department. I am part of the team which is involved in the maintenance of the garden areas. I am very happy with my new job – there is a great team atmosphere.”

Karen Abbott, Sir Harold Hillier’s Garden 2010-11 Currently Gardener at The Hurlingham Club

“I began working at Tregothnan Botanic Garden on the HBGB Scheme in the middle of August and cannot believe 3 months have gone past already! My experience at Tregothnan has given me hundreds of new skills and experience of working in a truly breath-taking environment. I am involved in a major re-development of a section of the garden incorporating Southern Hemisphere plants. I have planted a tea plantation which Tregothnan is now famous for. I have been given responsibility of developing the vegetable garden, growing food for the mansion and I can now drive a tractor! I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work alongside John Price- a Camellia expert to collect some cuttings from what is thought to be the oldest collection of indoor grown Camellia’s in the UK at Chiswick house. We are propagating these plants to ensure their survival. My first plant collecting mission! Every day is different in the garden and I am enjoying every minute of it. Every person I have met has been really welcoming and helped me to settle in and enjoy my year here. I have my own cottage and small garden on the estate allowing me to practice my skills and grow my own veg. It’s an amazing opportunity and lovely to become part of this historic landscape. I am looking forward to spring and seeing the garden at its best!”

Laurie Kerr, Tregothnan Botanic Garden, November 2007

“I am really enjoying my time at Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses; working with people who share my love of plants. It has been a great way to get the hands-on experience for a future career in a Botanical or Historic garden, and also develop my knowledge of plants. I have gained plenty of new practical skills from the passionate gardeners, they are always keen to give a helping hand. The plant idents have been a great way of improving my plant knowledge and finding out interesting facts, the workshops and lectures have given me vital information. The projects have given me the chance to build on my passion for British Natives and a chance to see the conservation which is being achieved by determined organisations.

The experience so far has been brilliant and my enthusiasm is growing by the day. The scheme has given me skills which will be essential in my future career. I am looking forward to all the new things I will learn over the next 6 months; and I’m enjoying every minute. I would definitely recommend the placement to anyone with a passion for plants, it’s a brilliant unique opportunity.”

Update – April 2009 “I have secured a place on the Kew Diploma which will allow me to gain the skills needed for a career in botanical gardens and eventually lecturing. The year I had at Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses on the HBGBS scheme taught me the groundings and basics I needed to succeed as a horticulturist in a botanical garden. Thanks to the year there I could further develop my skills at Cambridge Botanical Garden and move on to Kew.”

Ben Houston, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses, 2007