In fact, if I may continue to quote Alice Cooper – School’s Out . . . Forever! Last week the National Trust Careership graduation ceremony took place at Reaseheath College in Nantwich, Cheshire. I was part of this graduation because I have been studying as part of the Careership scheme for gardeners for the last three years, together with 11 other National Trust trainees from around the country.
While based at Chartwell during this training programme I have been lucky enough to be part of a fantastic team of gardeners here that have helped me learn an incredible amount about the running of a heritage garden. From lawn care to propagation, from hedge trimming to composting, from machinery maintenance to pond management, from fruit and veg growing to woodland conservation, from running a budget to giving garden tours and much, much more besides. This has been supported by the academic input from Reaseheath College where we have been instructed on the likes of garden history, garden design, botany and plant science. The result of these studies has provided me with an RHS Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture, an NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Work-Based Horticulture and an NPTC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Horticulture. Whilst at college we also successfully earned vocational certificates in the likes of tractor driving and chemical spraying. In other words, I have learned a lot during this time! In fact one of the joys of gardening is that you never stop learning, and long may that continue.
The above picture shows the gardeners that graduated last week and proves that we can look smart when we really want to! In addition to our certificates for successfully completing the Careership, there were two other awards given out to gardeners that day, along with a further two for the National Trust rangers who also graduated with us. Neil Hoad from Powys Castle won the James Row Memorial Award for endeavor. The other award was for Best National Trust Trainee Gardener, and I am very pleased indeed to say that this was presented to me! While I was very happy and extremely proud to win this award, it is also a prize for Chartwell itself as I couldn’t have achieved what I have done over the last three years without the support from everyone in the team here, along with the lecturers at Reaseheath and probably most importantly, my wife Clare (how many brownie points is that worth?!).
I have done some publicity interviews with the National Trust press office since the graduation, so you never know, you might see something about me and Chartwell in a magazine or on a website near you soon! You can check out one example on the National Trust Press Office blog here. Reaseheath College have also reported on our graduation here.
The Careership is co-run by the National Garden Scheme and some information on Chartwell’s place within the NGS can be found here. My year group were the last ever Careership graduates as the National Trust are currently in the process of changing their training system to include a one year NT Academy scheme and a separate two year NT Diploma system. More information on these changes (along with a picture of the team here at Chartwell taken from our first ever blog post!) can be seen here. For me, the real world now begins! No more study days and no more warm classrooms during the depths of winter! On the flip side, it also means no more revising and no more assignment writing which leaves more time for actual, proper gardening! I hope to see you all in our gardens here at Chartwell soon…