Historic gardens bursary scheme sees rise in applications

The Historic & Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme (HBGBS) has seen a 65 per cent rise in the number of applications for 2010-11.

But the scheme has run into difficulties because some of the placement hosts have been forced to drop out due to internal funding issues.

HBGBS coordinator Fiona Dennis said: "Some have recruitment freezes or are having to cut staff numbers and it can be difficult to take on a trainee when this is the case. Restructuring within an organisation can mean that there is no longer a position for a trainee."

An increase in applications alongside fewer places available on the scheme has led to much greater competition, with 168 applicants this year competing for 17 places.

Some 63 per cent of applicants were looking for a career change. Two are ex-Capel Manor College students, Ondina Mulundo and Karen Abbott. They will be going onto the scheme at Hampton Court Palace and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens & Arboretum respectively.

The scheme enables horticulturalists to increase their skills through practical training placements in prestigious historic and botanic gardens throughout the UK.

Trainees are taken on for a year and paid for full-time work. They are assigned a supervisor to guide them through their training and undertake a structured learning plan including a technical diary and weekly plant identification tests, and are asked to complete four self-driven research projects.

The scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with the intention that trainees entering the profession will help to sustain and develop the historic and botanical garden sector.

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