Posted by Beth
on Jul 5, 2014 in Development
| 0 comments
If you are a green-fingered fanatic and love nothing more than spending time outdoors, a career in horticulture could be beckoning for you
With a range of different types of horticultural qualifications on offer, the route to getting the job you really want could be easier than you think.
Working on something you love is something everyone dreams about but it’s not difficult to make that dream a reality if you know what to do. Below is an A-Z guide of how to start and follow a career in horticulture.
A is for…apprenticeship
To secure a job in horticulture and appear attractive to employers requires a combination of practical experience and theoretical knowledge. This can be difficult to achieve but an apprenticeship can offer the best of both worlds. A way to earn a basic wage whilst still studying part-time for a horticultural qualification at college, an apprenticeship is a great way to kick-start a career in the industry.
Horticulture is for those who love plants.
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B is for…basics
Although you may dream of a glittering career in horticulture, to become successful you will need to be willing to get stuck into the basics. Horticulture isn’t always glamorous and basic yet essential tasks such as mowing, mulching, pruning and weeding will always need to be done.
C is for…chemistry
Although you may see horticulture as a career which is primarily practical, it’s essential to also have a good grasp of science and in particular chemistry. The elements of plants and the composition of soil, as well as the building blocks of genetics, must all be thoroughly understood in order for the practical application of methods to be successful.
D is for…dung
Don’t follow a career in horticulture unless you are prepared to get your hands dirty. There will be plenty of dung, manure, muck – whatever you want to call it. Manure is used to aid plant growth, knowledge of composting, manure use, etc. is essential for any horticultural worker.
E is for…environment
Horticulture has changed greatly over the years and the emphasis now is on the environment and eco-friendly methods. The use of organic mulch, rainwater collection for irrigation and vertical landscaping are all ways in which a horticulturalist can incorporate environmentally-friendly principles into their work without compromising their career.
F is for…flowers
Possibly the most glamorous element of horticulture, knowing your flowers is a must-have if you want a job in one of the top gardens or heritage centres in the country. National Trust properties as well as private gardens all look for an in-depth knowledge of flowers and plants as an essential skill in their grounds men.
G is for…going green
The world has never been more eco-aware and green products, services and lifestyles are constantly rising in popularity, even if they are the more expensive option. For this reason, careers in ecology and horticulture are expected to rocket with demand surging in both rural and urban areas.
Flowers are often a main part of horticultural project.
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H is for…highly-skilled
A recent report from the Royal Horticultural Society highlighted the shortage of home-grown workers, with employers struggling to recruit. Horticulture is a highly-skilled profession and whilst hands-on experience is useful, technical knowledge and qualifications are essential.
I is for…involvement
Enthusiasm is infectious and becoming involved in local projects will help get you known in the industry. There are many different types of projects and opportunities in local communities to become involved in horticulture; not only will this provide valuable experience but will also help you to start developing a network of valuable contacts,
J is for…jargon
Having practical skills are undoubtedly a large part of the job but understanding the jargon used can take a bit of getting used to. Knowing your jacaranda from your jephcotti will help you seem more professional and could help you land a more prestigious job.
Horticultural projects often involve teams.
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K is for…Kew Gardens
Despite the many stunning gardens in the UK, Kew Gardens remains the flagship with its sumptuous grounds, stunning blooms and well-kept plants. Aiming to get a job in Kew when you are fresh out of college may be a bit of a stretch but it can be a good idea to visit top establishments like Kew for inspiration and ideas that could help you in your horticultural work.
L is for…landscape architecture
Landscape architecture is a good place for a horticultural student to begin to get work experience. Relatively easy to get into, it’s often seen as a way to get a foot on the career ladder because you don’t need vast amounts of knowledge at the most basic level, making it ideal for novices. Of course, as you advance in the field of landscape architecture, the subject becomes increasingly complex and the most successful and senior individuals have studied and passed advanced qualifications to help them with their work.
M is for…maintenance work
Horticultural qualifications aren’t just useful for individuals who want to work in landscaped gardens; they will also benefit those who work in providing gardening maintenance services. This could be everything from mowing lawns, to pruning, weeding and keeping residential gardens in tip-top condition. Although there are no minimum standards, having a professionally recognised qualification will not just make the job easier and the results better; you will have an edge over your rivals and stand a better chance of winning jobs and customers.
Maintenance work helps keep horticultural projects going.
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N is for…niche
Horticulture isn’t just about gardening; it provides the opportunity to work in a very niche area. Once you have the general background and relevant core skills and qualifications, you can go on to study further examinations to become an expert or specialist in a niche field.
O is for…outdoors
The idea of working in horticulture may sound attractive, especially if you like spending time in your own garden. However, the stark reality of working outdoors all year round in all weathers can be far from comfortable. It takes a certain kind of person who is able to withstand the cold and wet weather constantly whilst carrying out a range of arduous physically demanding tasks.
P is for…pesticides
A controversial issue, pesticides are commonly used but have come under the spotlight for the effects they can have on the surrounding flora and fauna. Understanding what measures can be taken to reduce the use of pesticides is vital, along with the circumstances when the use of pesticides, herbicides or insecticides is unavoidable. Learning how to ensure no water sources are contaminated and how to identify vulnerable areas such as sinkholes, storm sewers and sandy soil where the use should be avoided is also an important part of horticultural education.
Q is for…qualifications
There is a misconception that it’s possible to have a thriving career in horticulture without a solid educational background. Whilst it’s true that practical experience certainly counts for a lot, being a gardener takes more than just green fingers. Understanding how to treat different types of soil as well as the theory behind the practice, getting a qualification in horticulture is an essential part of building a successful career.
R is for…Royal Horticultural Society
A nationwide organisation the RHS is a wealth of information, advice and resources for both amateur gardeners and professional horticultural experts. As well as offering a diverse range of career opportunities and connections in the field, the RHS can be a great way to join an online horticultural community. Much of their site and archives are available for free but there are also special members-only areas for those who have joined the organisation.
There is a royal society for horticulture.
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S is for…sustainability
With the increasing focus on conservation, creating sustainable landscapes is a priority for more and more landowners. This would typically mean a high degree of self-sufficiency, allowing the land to mature to develop a wild look, as if it had been created by nature. This concept is more difficult than it sounds, particularly in urban areas, but learning how sustainable development of the land can help to conserve energy and also reduce the amount of irrigation required is key knowledge for the budding horticulturist.
T is for…training
Once you have graduated from college and are the proud owner of a horticultural qualification, don’t give up on the idea of education. Techniques, methods and products change constantly so even if you feel like you have everything you need now, if you don’t keep your knowledge up to date and current you could quickly get left behind once you’re working in the field.
U is for…u-turn
Horticulture is a career that many people turn to later in life so don’t be deterred from studying for a qualification even if you are a more mature student. Making the decision to start a new career and give up something you simply don’t enjoy is a step to be applauded so don’t be afraid to make a U-turn
V is for…voluntary placements
Qualifications are a vital part of a career in horticulture and without a solid education, it’s impossible to progress but many of the skills required are practical. Horticultural qualifications may involve a voluntary work placement to help you practice the techniques you have learnt and prepare you for when you are ready to launch your career. You might even want to prepare for this by taking part in voluntary work within your local community to hone your skills in advance.
W is for…way forward
Horticulture is a huge subject and spans so many different possible careers. Estate management, arborist, scientist and journalism are all different career routes which could be possible with a qualification in horticultural behind you. However, exactly what course you choose and what types of practical experience you obtain will help shape your future career path. Therefore try to consider what aspects you particularly enjoy and where you ultimately hope to work.
X is for…xylo-, xanthus and xanthellum
Horticulturalists have a fascination with words beginning with the letter ‘x’, so much so that they have taken to making up their own words which already exist in the English language. For example ‘xylo-‘ is a prefix meaning woody and ‘xanthus’ means yellow – just two of the many x-words beloved by horticulturalists everywhere. And as for ‘xanthellum’? That word means ‘somewhat yellow’ according to the official botany dictionary!
Why not go for a career in horticulture
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Y is for…your own boss
If you long to work for yourself, horticulture is one of the perfect avenues to do this. As well as number of employed positions, there are a great many self-employed individuals who work in a diverse range of settings. Some jobs lend themselves naturally to self-employment and horticulture is one of these. The flexibility allows you to work around continuing your education (if you want to carry on with your professional training) and plan your workload around your personal family commitments.
Z is for…zeal
When you are trying to establish a career in the world of horticulture, don’t be afraid to let your zeal shine through. Most horticulturalists are passionate about what they do and this is one of the most attractive qualities you can possess. A potential employer might be willing to look past a relative lack of experience when presented with an individual holding the right qualifications who is clearly bursting with enthusiasm and passion for the job in hand.
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