They hope this will make a major contribution to efforts to bring new skills into the team and improve training for junior members.
HBGTP is a prestigious training and development scheme that is more typically associated with organisations that maintain historic plant collections and the grounds of stately homes rather than large public parks.
The University Parks managers were able to make a persuasive case to English Heritage that the wide range of work they do all over the University estate means that the trainee will gain experience of working in an exceptional variety of horticultural contexts. As well as the Parks, they care for more than 200 other green spaces around Oxford, from iconic settings to modern landscaping schemes around recently completed buildings to the intricately designed grounds of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and numerous centuries-old college gardens. There will also be opportunities for the trainee to work in other historically significant green spaces in and around the city, such as the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum.
During their year-long placement, the trainee will learn essential horticultural skills such as glasshouse propagation, in-situ seed sowing, border maintenance, hedge cutting and renovation, lawn maintenance, tree care, wildlife gardening and identifying and dealing with pests and diseases, all using a wide variety of equipment.
As well as working on site with the Parks team, the person appointed under the scheme will also receive more specialised horticultural training organised by English Heritage It is hoped that they will be able to share the knowledge and skills they gain with other team-mates, particularly the Parks apprentices. Last year’s cohort have just successfully completed their apprenticeships – two of the three being awarded distinction in their final assessment – and a new group are now being appointed.
A retired senior Parks gardener has agreed to return on a part-time basis as Horticultural Trainer, and he will work with both the apprentices and the English Heritage trainee to help with the overall goal of raising skill levels within the team.
Details of the placement are now available online.