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The Sissinghurst Scholar

Sissinghurst Scholar Claire Margetts with a sack slung over her shoulder standing among colourful flowers at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent
Sissinghurst Scholar Claire Margetts | © National Trust/Eira Mcintosh

The National Trust's first ever horticulture scholar has begun work at Sissinghurst. Find out more about their work here.

The Sissinghurst Scholarship

In June 2022, Sissinghurst Castle Garden opened applications for The Sissinghurst Scholarship - a new programme offering gardeners the special opportunity to work alongside our Head Gardener Troy Scott-Smith and his team whilst developing practical hands-on experience. The Schoalrship is designed to cultivate the Head Gardeners of the future and was generously funded by donations and legacies.

When asked what the Scholarship could offer individuals, our Head Gardener Troy Scott Smith said, “Sissinghurst Castle Garden has been a foundation of horticultural learning for decades. In fact, in 1997, Nigel Nicolson, son of Vita and Harold, wrote that ‘Sissinghurst is a nursery not only for plants, but for head-gardeners'.

“Now, as a leading international garden, we want to embed this legacy as a core principle, creating an informal but world-class training environment to keep the tradition of learning at Sissinghurst alive for decades to come.”

The Orchard in April at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
Orchard at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in bloom | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Meet the Scholar

Claire Margetts was selected from 59 candidates as the inaugural recipient of the Sissinghurst Scholarship and will spend 18 months learning her craft. Although based at Sissinghurst, Claire will have the opportunity to visit associated garden organisations and sites to broaden her development and learn from a variety of experts.

After finding that the scholarship would have a particular emphasis on the approach of the garden's founders, Vita and Harold, Claire said, “The pull of applying to be a part of the traditions and practices used by Vita and Harold, under the tuition of Head Gardener Troy Scott-Smith and his team, was irresistible.

"As a Head Gardener of the future I look forward to learning to navigate and help solve some of the great challenges in the garden, namely; balancing historic garden conservation with climate change, accessibility, access to nature, the professional skills shortage and biosecurity."

She goes on to say: “As the first Scholar I feel a great sense of responsibility to legacy, to hopefully in-turn inspire future Scholars and to go on and teach these skills to the next generation. I'm pretty sure, that if little me had seen more female Head Gardeners at historic gardens I would have thought, how do I get that job?”

Claire will be running frequent updates on our social media pages, showcasing the work she's been undertaking.

Stay tuned for exciting updates and discoveries as we follow Claire on her journey.