New starters hear of horticulture industry opportunities

The real people, real places, real jobs event at the Landscape Show, co-hosted by Perennial, heard from a dozen industry speakers about pathways into the profession.

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said the industry is moving into "functionality" such as the flood allevation and temperature possibilities of planting landscaping and "away from pretty".

Leicester City grounds manager John Ledwidge said the Institute of Groundsmanship young board had helped him and that he wanted to dispel the myth that groundsmen were "old men with a gammy leg cutting the pitch".

Gardener Charlie Bloom said plant pathologists were the "unsung heroes" of horticulture and although many people want to be garden designers, her Google search found only one plant pathology post graduate course but hundreds of garden designer courses. She added that there need to be more new nurserymen and women and landscapers too. There is a post graduate plant pathology MSc at Harper Adams University.

Designer Will Williams, 20, advocated setting up your own business, while fellow London College of Garden Design graduate Tom Massey said learning CAD and entering awards and shows had helped him.

Thompson & Morgan's Michael Perry, who leaves the company after 18 years this month, said the industry had offered him much variety and he "always said yes to opportunties", while RHS education head Sarah Cathcart said she she had worked in four jobs in 10 years at the RHS, which shows the career progression and variety of the industry.

Former BALI chairman Paul Cowell said his skills were transferable worldwide and urged delegates to join trade associations as a resource database, as did National Land Based College chief executive Leigh Morris, while Living Landscapes' Tecwyn Evans stressed that there were lots of trades required to build a garden.

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