Author Topic: Gardening career..?  (Read 17820 times)

Digitalis

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
Gardening career..?
« on: March 29, 2009, 21:32:59 »
Is there much chance of having a successfulcareer in gardening/horticulture?

I'm still learning each day as I've recentlt got my first allotment, but I find the whole prospect of working in horticulture fascinating.

Anyway, I've seen a local course at King's Heath Park in Brum, and I'm seriously considering going for it. It's a two year HNC in Garden Design, for one day a week. It covers both design and general horticulture.

But is it worth it? Is there enough work out there? It would be great to be self-employed, but wouldn't work dry up in winter?

Should I just have gardening as an enjoyable hobby?

Allotments 4 All

Gardening career..?
« on: March 29, 2009, 21:32:59 »

betula

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,839
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2009, 21:36:24 »
You will love Kings Heath Park school of Horticulture.

I spent two years there and finished last July.

As a jobbing gardener I have had too much work in the summer and not enough in the winter but there are so many ways to use those qualifications..

Digitalis

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2009, 21:57:01 »
What do gardeners do during the winter to keep the money coming in?

Did you do the HNC, betula?

betula

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,839
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2009, 22:07:31 »
No,it would have cost me three thousand pounds and I can not justify it.

I have another half who keeps me in state of luxuryLOL

I have City and Guilds level two certificate.

I would say if you have not studied horticulture at a lower level you may find the course a little OTT.

Just my opinion. ;D

laurieuk

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,039
  • now retired
    • laurie mansers  garden hints
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2009, 22:25:10 »
How times change I started as a garden-boy in 1948 on a very low wage because I was learning the trade. I am now 78 in a couple of weeks and still have to turn work down at an hourly rate that seems stupid. Apart from 2 years national service I have never been out of work. I have no "qualifications" only experience. I went self employed in 1986 but only accepted jobs that were for 12 months a year. I am still with some of those same people now but will soon pack up. It is a very satisfying job and with the very high rates of pay offered now you should be able to make a good living. My only regret is being in a "tied" house as we will in the near future find ourselves without a home.

Digitalis

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2009, 22:28:22 »
Thanks, laurie.

I'm 27, so I'd find it hard to get a 'trainee' or apprentice job.

betula

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,839
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2009, 22:33:36 »
Congratulations Laurieuk on having a long and happy career.

I hope you enjoy your retirement. ;D

How did you get a tied house as a jobbing gardener? :-\

laurieuk

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,039
  • now retired
    • laurie mansers  garden hints
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2009, 22:58:51 »
When I came out of full private service I was offered a tied house by a gentleman who wanted me to work one day a week in his garden .We have been here for 23 years now, I work Mondays and Fridays at the moment and am busy doing talks other days.
Not sure about enjoying retirement if we end up in a council house and no large garden. ??? :-[

Congratulations Laurieuk on having a long and happy career.

I hope you enjoy your retirement. ;D

How did you get a tied house as a jobbing gardener? :-\

Slug_killer

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • I wanna be a slug.
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2009, 04:03:40 »


Is there much chance of having a successfulcareer in gardening/horticulture?


Have a read of http://www.allotments4all.co.uk/smf/index.php/topic,29748.0.html. Although this was posted 2 years ago, the hourly rates haven't changed much.

To summarize,    YES  , you can make some kind of living being a gardener, but its hard work, low pay and seasonal, it also depends on where you live and what you can/are prepaired to do.


Gardening is less of a  'career', and more of a job, ie there's no promotional ladder.

Also, its credit crunch time. Having a neat garden isn't life and death and is an easy thing to cut from the housekeeping.


Its a rewarding job, if you like the rain and the snow, and don't expect to become a millionaire. Its certainly not the thing to go into if you have to rely on it for the mortgage & monthly payments, especially during winter.

The HNC courses are purely theoretical, they are not practical courses.

I did my HNC in Horticulture at Pershore and HNC in Garden Design at Kings Heath.

The two courses have about 70% in common. Ie Plant Science/Soil Science, Plant Identification and Use, Garden History, Hard Landscaping, Garden and Project Management & Business Management.

The difference being things like Propagation and Garden Maintenance vs Design and Advanced Drawing (although HNC Horticulture included basic design)

HNC Horticulture is more relevant and practical if you want to be a jobbing gardener. The HNC Design is a lot of sitting at a desk drawing - all arty like in a nice warm, dry room.

If you want a serious career in horticulture you'll need at least a degree.

The difference between Pershore and Kings Heath is
 - Pershore is a collage with laboratories and fully equipped classrooms, Kings Heath is a couple of small rooms rented from the council.
 - Pershore has an excellent library (which is also open to the public, but the public can't take books out) and full student facilities, Kings Heath has a cupboard which is locked nearly all the time.
 - Pershore has a full canteen with hot meals, sandwiches and drinks machines and a licensed bar, Kings Heath has a kettle and access to the park tea rooms (when open),
 - Kings Heath is in Birmingham, Pershore is 45 mins away down the M5 (about 10 quid in petrol).
 - Kings Heaths classes are always on a Wednesday. Pershore varies depending on numbers.
 - The main teaching staff are at Pershore, while Kings Heath only get those who are prepaired to travel upto Birmingham once a week.

Also at Kings Heath the Plant Ident was done from photo's, where as Pershore was done stomping around the grounds all touchy-feely kind of thing. To think you could have a qualification in identifying plants without actually touching one or seeing it for real - bit poor I thought.

In general, both are good and usefull courses, but they're quite involved and hard work. Don't expect to have time to be down the allotment this time of year if you want to finish the all coursework .


When Santa's about, just hoe-hoe-hoe

laurieuk

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,039
  • now retired
    • laurie mansers  garden hints
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2009, 11:40:05 »
Hi Slug Killer,
You really seem to look on the black side, you could talk of working in the lovely sunshine with it's warmth on your back.The satisfaction of having an employer say how nice the garden looked etc. I think there still is a ladder to climb, there are head-gardener's positions with the National Trust etc. as well as still some private positions. I believe word of mouth recommendations will serve a gardener better than a piece of paper. I am sorry to say but the "qualified" gardeners I have dealt with in the last few years did not last long.

Old bird

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,373
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2009, 12:46:27 »
Cosmo & Dibs

I am sure that you can/could earn a good standard of living.  I don't necessarily go down the "going to college" route is necessarily the right way necessarily!

I think you could learn an awful lot from working with someone like Laurieuk - who will know what is what and when and how!

Up to a point how successful you become is how you approach the job and whether you are a cheerful outgoing person who doesn't always put problems in the way!

I think that credit crunch or no credit crunch - and depending on where you live - there is still a lot of moneyed people out there - who would rather pay a gardener to do work rather than doing it themselves.

Obviously - if you are aiming to be a "landscape gardener" qualifications would be the way forward - but for just "gardening" a guy like Laurie would be so useful to get you going for a few months - if you know anyone like him!

Talk to people in your area - in the pub - neighbours etc.  You generally can find some work that way and when you get recommended on - that is when you can start charging a little bit more as your experience and client list grow.

I personally don't think that working as a gardener for one employer full time is an option these days though - unless you have been to a college!  But they are not very well paid - and you don't have much chance for freelancing or whatever.

Go for it - give it a try part time to start - just to try the waters!

Good luck - whatever you decide

Old Bird
 ;D

betula

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,839
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2009, 13:11:29 »
I really feel I need to come to the defence of Kings Heath Park.

I was a student there for two year and really slug killer I  find some of your remarks very unfair.

It is not just two rooms rented from the council ,it is a very old house in the middle of the park,a lot of original features still left.A small but enjoyable place to study.It has a kitchen and a very good cafe ,that is open every day and is very popular.

After doing two years of idents I can recall only a few times we worked from photographs.The rest was walking around the park and   collecting specimens.
Obviously a lot depend on the time of year.

The staff at the park are very dedicated and a joy to work with.

I do not think it is fair to compare the two,Pershore and Kings Heath.


betula

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,839
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2009, 13:43:39 »
Also forgot to add,Kings Heath is part of Bournville college,you are a student of that college and have use of the very many facilities. :)

1066

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,390
  • And all that ..... in Hastings
    • Promenade Plantings
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2009, 14:10:56 »
C&D - it depends on what you want from life. I looked at changing careers a while ago, but I came to the conclusion that I love gardening as a hobby, and want it to stay that way.
But, and it is a fairly big but in my mind, it depends whether you really want to work where you enjoy what you are doing, I don't particularly love what I do for a living, but it pays well, I can work part time, I'm freelance so can work for a few months then take time off. This suits me as I get to do the things I like most in my plenty of spare time - gardening, holidays and enjoying life at home.
Good luck with whatever you decide

meant to add nothing tried nothing gained


« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 14:20:44 by 1066 »

laurieuk

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,039
  • now retired
    • laurie mansers  garden hints
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2009, 15:47:42 »
The only thing I would add to Old Bird's comments is join your local gardening society there are often pro gardeners there that you can get info from.
 As regards wages when I asked my father-inlaw about marrying his daughter he first comment was "your wage is what I have for pocket money".
We will be having our golden wedding anniversary next year.

Tee Gee

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,740
  • Huddersfield - Light humus rich soil
    • The Gardener's Almanac
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2009, 16:00:08 »
A very interesting thread this particularly to a retired engineer/surveyor like me.

I'm a bit like Laurie in so far as I went to the University of Life for my gardening experience, my website is my dissertation and I have no idea when I will get my degree ;)

My gardening experience went the 'hobbiest' route i.e. full time job during the day and gardening in the evenings and weekend.

I have had invites to build/maintain gardens but chose not to and I have no complaints with the way I went.

Now that I am retired I just go a long at a leisurely pace now that my clock watching days are over.

Its lovely in the morning to wake up and say......shall I get up? or shall I have another hour in bed?

The next question might be will be shall I garden or shall I just sit back and read, or practice my next love;.......... come into A4A and talk gardening it beats digging ;D

Let me wish all of you  who have or are about take gardening up as a carreer the best of luck.

I think to take gardening up as a career today might be a bit more lucrative an occupation than it was when I started off.

Quite often then, jobs were for life, and not well paid at that. The perks of the job might be a tied house which was fine while you were in work, but to lose your job meant you lost your house as well.

When you did a job on the side very often your client wanted it on the cheap whereas today 'self employment' is quite common and generally accepted so you can usually negotiate a reasonable rate for the job.

My all that talk of work has made me quite tired I think I will go and put the kettle on  ;)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 16:01:55 by Tee Gee »

Digitalis

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2009, 20:55:43 »
Thanks for all the interesting posts- you've given me a lot to think about.

The thing is, I'm 27 so will find it quite tough to get a trainee job.

My other option/love is surveying. I have been offered a place at uni' for September to do Quantity Surveying. It's a good career.

I'm thinking that gardening shall be left as a hobby- mainly as I'm so worried about the seasonal aspect of it all.

Pesky Wabbit

  • Hectare
  • *****
  • Posts: 881
  • Where's my(palm oil free)KRAFT choclit Easter Egg?
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2009, 04:29:59 »
You could always try a distance learning course.

You can do them at your own pace as and when you have time.

fluffygrue

  • Acre
  • ****
  • Posts: 331
Re: Gardening career..?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2009, 12:37:48 »
Speaking as a soon-to-be-27 year old meself.. if doing a degree's an option, I think you should strongly consider doing a horticulture degree, or possibly a Landscape Architecture degree (garden design, but a bit more surveyor-y.)

Whilst working as a jobbing gardener sounds pleasant enough, there's no scope for career progression, and wages are limited.

Your other option could be to work your way up in whatever career path you're in now, and try to side-shuffle those skills across to the horticulture industry.

HTH!
Melanie

 

anything