Head Gardener (Live out) - EC4884

West Sussex
25 Sep 2018
25 Oct 2018
Gardening Jobs
Full Time
Contract Type

A rare opportunity has arisen for an experienced Head Gardener to manage a 4-acre garden on an historic private estate.  The role would suit a dedicated and enthusiastic plants person with excellent organisational and staff management skills, interest in organic gardening and an observant eye for detail.

Set in the heart of a 3,500-acre rewilding project in West Sussex, this historic property has been inhabited by the same family for over 200 years.  The stunning 1.5-acre topiary garden around the house, designed by Georgia Langton, sits above a ha-ha, and beautifully echoes the shapes and tones of the wider landscape. Cloud-clipped box and yew create free-form Henry Moore-style shapes around standard hornbeam, holly and cloud-pruned box trees, with straight yew hedges providing structure. A patch of the lawn is managed for wildflowers, and the pebble paths around the house flower with forget-me-nots, creeping thyme, alpine Alchemillaerigeron, wild strawberries, violets and alliums.

Leading from the topiary garden is a 1.36-acre Victorian walled garden, half of which is devoted to fruit, vegetables and flowers for the house. A greenhouse provides year-round salads; summer tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines and chillies etc, and potted plants for the house. Raised vegetable beds provide a wide range of produce on a year-round basis, and the herbaceous beds are planted with architectural edibles such as sea kale, rhubarb and artichokes. Cutting beds contain roses, dahlias, sweet peas and peonies etc. for the house, and the fruit cage; raspberries, loganberries, red and black currants, pots of blueberries and wall-trained peaches.

A grass acacia walk, bordered by a beech hedge and punctuated with mop-head acacias, leads to the other half of the walled garden with a croquet lawn and Mediterranean-style swimming pool garden featuring cypress, olive trees, extensive lavender beds and two loggia shaded by grape vines, roses and honeysuckle. Outside the walled garden, a restored orchard has been planted with apples, pears, plums and medlars. The walls of the Victorian walled garden support clambering roses and clematis, and the walls of the main house and associated buildings feature impressive stretches of wisteria, as well as climbing roses, clematis and vines, which are clipped using a cherry-picker. The topiary theme is continued in a small patch of garden at the front of the house and by the Estate Office.

In keeping with the ethos of the rewilding project, the entire garden is managed organically and planted to attract pollinating insects. Control of pests is managed through use of nematodes and judicious planting and crop management.  The garden is open to the public at least once a year and for occasional charity events and visiting groups.

Applicants for this role must share the owners’ passion for the garden and its ‘green’ ethos, such that they are able to present themselves as an ambassador for a non-chemical regime of gardening through the occasional delivery of garden talks and guided tours. There may be opportunities to increase public engagement with the garden and, perhaps, in conjunction with the rewilding project safaris, run workshops on ‘gardens for pollinating insects’, ‘organic vegetable gardening’, ‘managing orchards’, and scrumping days for locals, for example.

The successful applicant will be required to efficiently manage one part-time under gardener and a two-day/week WRAGS trainee, and contractors who may be brought in for mowing, hedge-cutting, path maintenance in the walled garden, the improvement and maintenance of the croquet lawn (which will become the focus of family croquet tournament) and pruning the climbers around the walls of the main house. It is important that the gardens are presented and maintained to the highest standard at all times. 

Applicants for this opportunity should possess excellent horticultural knowledge and demonstrable experience in the management of each of the above features. Candidates should have experience of garden management, health and safety knowledge from a training and practical aspect, experience of supervising staff and maintaining tools and machinery.  Excellent time and staff management skills are essential as is a good level of physical fitness and the willingness to lead by example.

The Head Gardener will be required to set up and manage nursery propagating facilities to provide plants for the garden as well as some plants and cut flowers for the house.  The position is full-time and will require some weekend work during the summer. The Head Gardener will be encouraged to discuss new ideas with the owners. There are no non-horticultural duties required of the Head Gardener in this role.

If this Head Gardener vacancy is of interest please apply or contact Mark Read on 01233 733510 or info@englishcountrygardeners.co.uk .

Thank you for the interest you have shown in this Head Gardener vacancy.  Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications that we receive, it is not possible to respond to every one.  Therefore, unless you hear from us within the next 14 days, your application for this Head Gardener vacancy will have been unsuccessful.

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All questions are required

Do you have demonstrable experience in organic gardening and bio-controls?

Are you an experienced Head/Senior Gardener with excellent horticultural knowledge?

Do you have experience of staff management and public engagement on private estates?

Do you have a recognised academic horticultural qualification?

Are you a physically fit hands-on gardener at senior level?

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