Careers in our gardens

National Trust gardeners at work at Cotehele, Cornwall

We look after some of the most important and ground-breaking landscape parks and gardens in Britain.

These contain the works of major garden designers in history, including William Kent, Capability Brown, Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Jeffery Gellicoe.

Our gardens also showcase examples of every development in British garden design from Elizabethan to the modern styles.

Covering an area the size of Guernsey, our 200 gardens and 100 landscape parks support a vast range of historically and botanically important plants collected over the last 400 years from around the world. They attract a huge number of visitors, running to over 11 million per year.

All of these gardens require our gardening teams to have specific knowledge and skills applicable to different historic gardening styles.

Supporting the next generation of gardeners

Since 2015 we’ve been working in partnership with the Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme (HBGTP) run by English Heritage to recruit and train the gardeners of the future.

We’ll be recruiting new trainees in February 2017, due to start in September 2017.

The placements are full-time salaried positions and include garden visits, guided research and plantmanship training. 

Both one- and two-year courses offer practical skills training and the two-year course includes studying for the Royal Horticultural Society Diploma in Horticulture, Level 3.

During their placement the HBGTP trainee will benefit from a structured learning programme and be assigned a supervisor and a mentor to guide and support their practical training. The trainee will keep a technical diary and undertake research projects and weekly plant identification tests.

The HBGTP trainee will have a full-time employment contract with the garden, which will pay no less than the National Minimum Wage. The two-year programme also includes registration with Capel Manor College to undertake the RHS Diploma in Horticulture Level 3. This includes four intensive study blocks at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire. In addition there will be two skills certificates and an extra Historic Gardens module.

Applicants must be over 17 and have an RHS Level 2 qualification.

For details or to apply please visit the Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme website.

Supporting and developing our teams

We also run our own in-house staff training known as the Heritage Gardening Programme. From trainees and volunteer gardeners to garden managers, the programme provides formal training within the organisation.

Volunteer and trainee gardeners will also be given the opportunity to learn on the job, through a structured programme we are calling the Heritage Skills Passport funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

From September 2017 the National Trust also aims to begin piloting the new Horticultural Apprenticeships, soon to be rolled out under the Government Trailblazer scheme. These will be work-based, salaried placements, with some college attendance to reach a level 2 standard of expertise.

These apprenticeships will be advertised on the National Trust jobs website in spring 2017.  

Gardener Liz Maynard at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

A day in the life of a trainee gardener 

Want to know what it's like being enrolled onto our trainee programme? Hear from newly qualified gardener Liz Maynard who has just completed a two-year placement at Sissinghurst Castle Garden.