Guild boosts horticultural support

Training courses and professional advice offered as part of enhanced membership services.

The Professional Gardeners Guild is beefing up support to members with training, safety advice and awards.

The guild aims to launch masterclasses later this year with courses including plant identification, veteran trees and plant photography.

"Training for members and non-members will last up to two days and some will qualify for bursaries from groups such as the RHS," said chairman Tony Arnold.

The masterclasses were previously run by the Historic & Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme but lack of funding has seen Arnold's group "pick up the framework", he said.

Class sizes would range from 10 to 25 people and some courses, such as chainsaws, spraying and tractor driving, may be done in the workplace, he explained.

"We want to cover the whole country so that no member is more than an hour's drive from a training venue. This could encourage employers to become more active in training."

The guild has launched advice on topics including risk assessments, working at height, petrol storage and legionnaires disease in greenhouse water systems.

"Many members don't work for big organisations with in-house health and safety departments. We will offer one piece of free advice as part of their subscription," said Arnold

The first awards ceremony in September will reward the best new gardener, loyal service and services to the guild. "I believe in the three Rs - recruitment, retention, rewarding," Arnold explained. "Recruitment isn't a problem but retention can be difficult. One way to help is to reward people."

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