Me & My Job - Helena Dove, senior gardener, Myddelton House Gardens

Helena Dove, senior gardener, Myddelton House Gardens
Helena Dove, senior gardener, Myddelton House Gardens

How did you get started in the industry? I started at Langthorns Plantery, where my plant knowledge rocketed up and I got a great grounding in plant care. I was also studying my RHS level 2 diploma at Writtle College. From here, I gained a place on the Heritage & Botanic Gardens Trainee Programme, working in Myddelton House Gardens for two years while studying for my RHS level 3 diploma as part of the course. I was extremely lucky to gain a job at Myddelton House once my course finished, and in my favourite area, the Kitchen Garden.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Get as much experience as possible as there are so many areas in this industry and attend lectures and conferences. People are always really friendly and happy to give advice, so by getting out there you can find opportunities. Also to experiment — I always like to read around on whatever job I am doing and then try several different methods to see what works best for myself and the gardens. It’s always good to form your own opinions.

What is the best aspect of your job? There is something magical about the first harvest of any crop, whether it’s the first radish in spring or the first apple in the autumn. I’m always a little excited to see how they taste. What has been your biggest achievement at work? Apart from gaining a job in the area I am passionate about, I have helped to develop the composting system and we are now turning out a good amount that is used throughout the gardens.

What does the future hold professionally? I was lucky to inherit a kitchen garden that had just been restored, but the next step will be to extend the range of fruit that is grown at Myddelton House Gardens. I am looking forward to researching what heritage varieties we will be able to offer in the future.


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