Royal Parks seeks new apprentices with passion for gardening & can-do attitude

The Royal Parks charity is looking for aspiring horticulturists to join the team of apprentices who help shape London’s green spaces, including Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park and Bushy Park, for everyone to enjoy.

The charity, which cares for London’s eight historic Royal Parks, takes on up to 10 new paid apprentices every year, to train the next generation of horticulturists.

The Royal Parks is encouraging people with a positive attitude, a can-do approach, and a passion for gardening, to apply for the renowned apprenticeship scheme and learn from gardeners at the top of their game.

Applications for the scheme open today, March 26, and will close on April 21 2024.

The scheme prides itself on its accessibility and is open to people of all ages. Many of the charity’s apprentices have entered the role after changing careers – such as switching from a career in the hospitality industry or retail. Others have begun the apprenticeship after leaving school, aged 18.

Apprentices will master valuable skills including plant identification, propagation, landscape design, parkland management and hands-on training in operating horticulture machinery.

Adam Stoter, Assistant Park Manager at The Royal Parks, who oversees the apprenticeship programme, said: “We are seeking applicants with a passion for gardening. They should enjoy working outdoors in all weathers and be prepared for early starts.

 “Our apprenticeship programme will foster life-long skills in horticulture, to provide a solid foundation for a successful career in this field.

 “We look forward to nurturing the next generation of passionate horticulturalists so that they will thrive with the skills they develop through our programme.”

Apprentices also have access to the Hyde Park Nursery which grows 450,000 plants a year, supplying the flowerbed displays across all of the Royal Parks which are seen by the parks’ 70 million annual visitors.

Erin Whittaker, 28, based in central London, studied art and design at university and worked in office and retail jobs before joining as an apprentice at The Regent’s Park. The third-year apprentice said:

“It can be quite physical, but it’s so rewarding.

 “It doesn’t necessarily matter if you haven’t got tons of experience. It’s more about attitude and just being willing to get stuck in and eager to learn.

 “I never expected my life to go in this direction but I’m so glad it did! The world of horticulture is so broad, there are so many routes you could take. I’m excited to see where it leads me.”

 Jay Rathod, 30, based in Hackney, previously worked as a Store Manager on Oxford Street. The second-year apprentice at Kensington Gardens said:

“As nature can nurture the planet, it can also nurture your mental state. Working in horticulture allows me to give back to the world and contribute to the green spaces around me.

 “You know you’ll be tired at the end of the day, but you know you’ve done something good for the world and for the community around you as well.”

 Rupert Lovibond, 40, from Hanworth, West London, previously worked at a pub before applying for the horticultural apprenticeship at Bushy Park.

The first-year apprentice said:

I love education, and I really wanted to be part of parks in general. It’s absolutely amazing for your mental health.

“I cannot even put into words how much I’ve learned. It’s really nice to be able to say that about yourself, even at 40 years old.

 “I love my football, I love my sport, but suddenly, I love gardening. It’s absolutely wonderful. You meet new people, you learn new things, and you’re out in the open.”

 Many former apprentices at The Royal Parks have gone on to become park managers, supervisors or contract managers for the charity. Others have taken on roles at other high-profile locations worldwide, such as Kew Gardens, Crystal Palace Football Club, and Buckingham Palace.

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