Looking good now
The multitude of golden black-eyed Susan is setting the Autumn Garden aglow.
The multitude of golden black-eyed Susan is setting the Autumn Garden aglow.
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Gardening supports: a Perennial partnership for horticultural training

This September's intake to the Certificate in Practical Horticulture and Plantsmanship has seen an extra trainee join the scheme, boosting the student number to seven thanks to a new funding partnership with Perennial.
Perennial is the UK’s only charity dedicated to helping all horticulturists in times of need. Speaking about the new funding agreement, Sheila Thomson, Director of Services at Perennial, said: ‘As part of Perennial’s ongoing commitment to horticulture training through our Lironi Training Fund, we have been looking for a traineeship to sponsor which offers excellent training and a recognized qualification whilst giving the trainees a reasonable sum to live on. We know that horticultural students are looking for practical experience coupled with a recognized qualification that will further their employment prospects. This traineeship offers both, with the added bonus that trainees are actually employed by the Botanic Garden and enjoy the same terms and conditions as the permanent staff. We are really thrilled to be working with the Cambridge University Botanic Garden team and hope this partnership leads to further opportunities to fund traineeships in the future.’

From the 1800s the Botanic Garden employed journeymen who worked their way through the ranks from general garden assistants to skilled horticultural posts, but it was not until the 1950s that a formal Trainee Horticultural Technician scheme was introduced by John Gilmour (Director, 1951–1973). Since this time, many graduates of this demanding scheme have gone on to occupy senior positions in the horticultural industry and in gardens and botanic gardens world-wide, including, to name but a few, the widely acclaimed plantsman, Roy Lancaster, Jim Gardiner (Executive Vice President, Royal Horticultural Society), Peter Thoday (Lecturer and Horticultural Advisor, The Eden Project), and Jonathan Webster (Curator, RHS Rosemoor). In addition, graduates of the scheme serve on the Garden’s current horticultural staff, and their experience and understanding are invaluable in delivering a well-tended and well-curated Garden.

The current scheme, the Cambridge Certificate in Practical Horticulture and Plantsmanship, was introduced in 2007 and is accredited by the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education at Madingley Hall. Participants join us as University employees for one year, during which time they gain practical horticultural experience through working with a diverse collection of over 8,000 species alongside experienced staff, whilst also developing their plant knowledge. Practical work is supplemented by plant identifications, talks, practical demonstrations, and visits to gardens and sites of botanical significance.

With the funding from Perennial in place to support a seventh trainee for the next five years, Head of Horticulture at the Garden, Sally Petitt, said: ‘Trainees are vital to our delivery of horticultural work, and the addition of a seventh trainee means that each of our seven horticultural sections will now have a full-time team member, enabling us to continue to maintain and develop the Garden for the enjoyment of all.’

Already assigned to their first horticultural section in the rota, we welcome trainees this year Giulio, Seth, Sean, Imogen, Cathy, Sam and Bill.

Applications for the Certificate for Practical Horticulture and Plantsmanship are invited via the Garden’s website and on the University’s job opportunities webpages from January – March each year. Interviews take place in April for a September start. Please follow the link on the left for further information about this prestigious scheme.
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