The second-generation landscaper originally trained as a mechanic but decided he did not want to spend his life indoors and approached a local landscape company for a job. When it went under, he turned to Hillier and secured a job as a labourer.
But it was not long before his helpful attitude persuaded director Lynda Barnard to offer him an apprenticeship and college course. She said: "He contacted us out of the blue, which impressed us. He's very enthusiastic and has a passion for the industry.
"He is proactive and always there to back up the foreman. Very often you get these youngsters who just stand there - we thought this young lad could be going places."
Butcher, 20, started with Hillier in October 2011 and completed a level 2 diploma in horticulture with landscaping skills on day release at Sparsholt College in December 2012.
He learnt 30 different plant species, 15 lawn weeds and how to prepare ground and lay paving. He says he found it helpful to learn practice and theory at the same time.
Butcher adds: "I love being outside. Some jobs you get in every day and work on a computer. I like to get into a garden, rip it all out and sort it out again, and at the end of the day you get to see the finished product."
Hillier has promoted him to landscape operative and he mainly works locally on private gardens but has been as far as the Cotswolds and this summer will go to Jersey, working on a garden near the beach.
He is keen to do more training and become a site foreman. "From what I've learnt, if you don't ask you don't get," he says. "If it's something you really want to do you've got to talk to the right people. I'm really grateful for them giving me the opportunity and paying for my college course."
Barnard says Butcher "sailed through his course" and she received glowing reports from his tutors and assessors. She adds that he is just as good at learning from his foreman and is good at working as part of a team. "He is always keen to learn and picks skills up very quickly. He shows great promise for a future in landscaping."
The competition is still open for nominations for landscape apprentices. For further details, see www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk/go/landscapeapprenticeofyear.