Nell: Horticulture or Landscape Operative: Level 2

Published : Mon 29th Jan

Nell wanted to work outside in nature in a role that would have a positive impact on people and the environment, and keep her physically fit and so when she saw the apprenticeship at the National Trust it ticked all the boxes.

Trainee Gardener at Lytes Cary, Somerset. She started her Horticulture Level 2 apprenticeship in September 2022. Nell wanted to work outside in nature in a role that would have a positive impact on people and the environment and keep her physically fit, so when she saw the apprenticeship at the National Trust it ticked all the boxes. She has just completed her End Point Assessment and received a Distinction. She was the first apprentice in England to sit the revised EPA for this apprenticeship.

Why a horticulture apprenticeship?

After 1 year of studying for my A-levels, I came to the realisation that university wasn’t the right next step for me. I had fallen out of love with formal education and wanted to find something that made me excited to learn again. I struggled for a while, unsure of what avenue to pursue until I reflected on what was truly important for me. I realised that I wanted to work outdoors alongside nature in a way that had a positive impact on people and the environment, and I wanted a job that kept me physically fit too. I quickly realised horticulture was the perfect fit. Even better was a horticultural apprenticeship. I could afford to live independently whilst training and would finish qualified, debt-free and immediately employable! 

Best thing about the apprenticeship?

I honestly couldn’t choose one thing! I love that I have been able to learn in a practical, hands-on way where I am supported and mentored by extremely talented and knowledgeable gardeners, who are now close friends, and to be able to leave a lasting impact on such significant gardens is a real privilege! The joy of working in these beautiful gardens truly never wears off. Just this morning I have heard a woodpecker, been supervised by a robin and watched the winter sun slowly thaw the frosty garden!

Best thing about horticulture as an industry? 

There is something for everyone and you will never stop learning! Garden design for the artistic, plant research for the scientifically minded, environmental conservation for the climate activists, historical conservation, media and journalism, teaching and so much more. And the greatest joy for me is that these all fuse together in my day-to-day work! You really can create the career you want and it can be as specialist or as broad as you like. 

What are you most excited for in the future?

It is a pivotal time in the industry as changes in climate force us to reconsider the ways we garden and the impact we have on the earth. To be part of the next generation of horticulturists who are shifting towards more sustainable, ecological and nature-focussed gardening with such enthusiasm is hugely exciting and I can’t wait to see how horticulture develops!