National Trust launches heritage horticulture training scheme

The National Trust has launched its Heritage Gardening Programme which, it said, will offer comprehensive training for all the charity's gardening roles.

Professional gardening at Powis Castle and Garden. Image: National Trust/Arnhel de Serra
Professional gardening at Powis Castle and Garden. Image: National Trust/Arnhel de Serra

The formal training structure is designed to provide development opportunities within the organisation and will be delivered through practical courses, structured training completed in the workplace and e-learning platforms. The National Trust is also providing internal bursaries for travel to other properties to improve skills.

A key part of the programme will be the launch of Heritage Skills Passports, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The passports will provide volunteers and gardeners with the opportunity to acquire a wide range of horticultural skills by tracking the user’s development and linking to available training courses.

Head of gardens Mike Calnan said: "The National Trust's Heritage Gardening Programme is a response to the sector's skills shortage, particularly in heritage gardening. 

"It offers more entry points into the sector, more opportunities for staff to share their knowledge with colleagues and for the trust to develop the skills we need in order to look after the 240 heritage gardens in our care."

This is the second stage in the conservation charity’s revamp of its gardening training programme. Last year the National Trust announced a partnership with the Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme (HBGTP) funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and run by English Heritage.

So far this has led to the creation of full-time salaried placements for trainee gardeners across 16 of the Trust’s heritage gardens: Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, Bodnant in North Wales, Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, Dunham Massey in Cheshire, Dyffryn in South Wales, Erddig in North Wales, Lytes Cary in Wiltshire, Mount Stewart and Rowallane Garden in Northern Ireland, Nymans and Sissinghurst in West Sussex and Wallington in Northumberland.

One of these is Liz Maynard, who is beginning her gardening career at Sissinghurst this autumn, after two years on the Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme at the garden, which was given financial support by the National Gardens Scheme.

Maynard said that Sissinghurst was a fantastic place to learn and said she appreciated "working alongside such talented and knowledgeable gardeners and having the opportunity to work across a range of projects."

For further information about the HBGTP and to apply, visit

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