Heather Buchan has a double reason to be on a high. During the next few months she will be celebrating her 21st birthday and, after three years of hard work, she will complete her apprenticeship with Glasgow City Council.
Buchan says: I have achieved so much in such a short space of time and I still continue to improve my knowledge and develop my skills everyday.
Heather’s enthusiasm for horticulture has led her to be a model student — and last year she was awarded Apprentice of the Year status by the council.
Her dedication stems from her childhood, when an interest in the natural world was noted by her family. She says: My grandad was in landscaping, and knew that I would like this kind of thing. So he and my father took me to lots of gardens when I was growing up.
Heather was also fortunate to attend Hollybrook School in Glasgow, which runs a part-time horticulture course named the Grow For It Schools Vocational Programme. This enabled her to spend the past two years at school nurturing her interest in the subject.
I found out what it was like and so when an apprenticeship came along I knew I wanted to do it.
She learned how to use machinery, maintain formal beds, spray pesticides, carry out general garden maintenance and supervise newer trainees.
The college aspect is interesting but it is good to put the theory into practice and it is definitely easier to pick up the skills and plant knowledge when having a hands-on approach.
In her final year she has worked in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, specialising in nursery and display work. First I was working in the orchid house, the in Kibble Palace [the refurbished Victorian glasshouse], growing new plants. I love learning about new plants.
Heather has developed such a passion for glasshouse work she hopes to pursue it after graduating.
She adds: My advice to people thinking about a career in landscape is to give it a try first because it is very hard work but very rewarding. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.