West Dean Gardens launch Jim Buckland/Sarah Wain trainee horticulturalist fund

In the year that they retire, West Dean Gardens in West Sussex is establishing a fund and seeking donations, to establish a trainee horticulturalist post in honour of the legacy that head gardeners Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain have left in the gardens; to give someone at the start of their career, the chance they need to work towards managing a garden like West Dean.

Buckland and Wain have spent the last 28 years revitalising the gardens. They won a Horticulture Week Custodian Award in 2016 and will retire in spring 2019.

Wain said: "Large gardens want people to come with experience, but it’s so difficult to gain experience in the first place, it’s a catch 22. We want to set up a fund to help a person right at the beginning of their horticultural journey so they can one day manage large gardens like West Dean."

Through a complete annual cycle, the trainee will work with the West Dean team, learning about every aspect of the gardens and gaining practical experience. They will be eligible to apply to horticultural training programmes, including the RHS Diploma or Kew apprenticeship scheme.

West Dean’s aim is to secure enough money to fund the first three years of this programme, which equates to £70 a day. The cost to deliver the Trainee Horticulturalist post next year is £17,400 which covers their salary, membership of the Professional Gardeners’ Guild and vital health and safety training courses.


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