The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) is a charity which gives away more than £2.5 million each year to nursing, caring and gardening charities. Each year it funds 12 Garden Academy students who undertake training within National Trust properties.
This scheme was set up in 2001, in response to the shrinking pool of qualified gardeners from which any private or public owner could recruit new staff. We are grateful to the NGS for recognising this need and for funding this scheme which has since seen 200 individuals train as gardeners in National Trust properties. Many now work as full time, professional gardeners at National Trust, private and other major gardens at home and abroad.
The National Gardens Scheme is currently training four aspiring gardeners in the South West through the academy scheme. Trainees are currently located at Hidcote Manor Garden, Stourhead, Tyntesfield and Cotehele.
Jane Hammacott used to be a science teacher and researcher in a microbiology lab before she started her National Trust Academy training at Cotehele. She went straight into the training post following 18 months of volunteering at Cotehele and has been full-time for 5 months.
She says: ‘I am on a steep learning curve at the moment, but every day brings something new. For me, the most important thing I am learning at the moment is to identify plants in the garden. We have a collection of some 2000 species at Cotehele and there are a large number that are entirely new to me. I am also learning propagation techniques and how to use and maintain garden machinery as well as some garden design methods.’
Jane has been inspired by those she works with at Cotehele; people who have a real passion for what they do and are keen to share their knowledge. ‘Cotehele has a very special atmosphere – it is tucked away, high up above the banks of the River Tamar and has the feel of a lost world. It is very tranquil and is known and loved by many locals. It is a fantastic place to work because it is a place people visit to relax and it is nice to feel that I have made a contribution to people’s enjoyment.’
‘I would love to think that I have a career ahead of me in the National Trust. As an organisation it stands for many things that I think are important and it has the vision and initiative to make things happen.’
Please support the NGS so that we can continue to train the gardeners of the future. There are hundreds of beautiful NGS gardens open throughout the country so there’s bound to be an open day near to you soon. See http://www.ngs.org.uk/ for more details.