Me & My Job - Hannah Williams, deputy head gardener, South Staffordshire College

Hannah Williams, South Staffordshire College - image: HW
Hannah Williams, South Staffordshire College - image: HW

How did you get started in the industry? I wanted a career change and to be outdoors. My dad mentioned horticulture and I found courses at the Rodbaston campus of the South Staffordshire College that interested me. I decided on an apprenticeship - learning and earning at the same time. I am now deputy head gardener.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Find information about courses online, at open days and by speaking to staff or students. If you are thinking of an apprenticeship don't let the low wage put you off - you're training and like me you might get a job out of it.

What does your typical day involve? We cover all aspects, such as preparing land, propagation, planting, pest control, landscaping and designing.

What takes up most of your time? We are transplanting newly-arrived plug plants. At this time of year we plant half-hardy shrubs and grow bedding for summer displays, as well as plant sales.

What is the best aspect of the job? The variety. Spring, when everything comes to life. Summer, when our planting pays off with a blaze of colour. Autumn, when you can eat apples from our fruit garden. And winter, when we plan the year ahead.

And the worst? Office work and risk assessments, as well as the constant battle with white fly and weeds.

What is your greatest achievement? I was recently on local radio talking about my experience as an apprentice. I have also been nominated for the Apprentice of the Year Award 2011.

How do you wind down after a hard day? Going out with friends and to the gym.

What does the future hold? I look forward to completing my NVQ level 3 in horticulture and obtaining an A1 assessors award. I would eventually like to be a landscape designer, but at 22 I don't plan on moving just yet.


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