Head Gardener

DE6 5HT, Ashbourne
£27,191 pa
02 Jan 2019
22 Jan 2019
Gardening Jobs
Full Time
Contract Type


An incredibly rare opportunity has arisen to lead our gardens team in the design and development of a brilliant new garden in the setting of the Grade 1 listed Sudbury Hall. Currently, a very lovely, green blank canvas, our ambition is to develop a ‘destination garden’ for the north Midlands and we’re looking for a dynamic, experienced Head Gardener to help us achieve this goal.

Please be advised that in this role regular weekend and bank holiday working is a requirement of this role. We anticipate this being approximately one weekend in four.

What it's like to work here

Sudbury Hall, the country home of the Lords Vernon, offers a delight of 17th-century craftsmanship, featuring exquisite plasterwork, wood carvings and classical story-based murals. The Museum of Childhood is a delight for all ages with something for everyone. Children can discover something new, or relive nostalgic memories by exploring the childhoods of times gone by, make stories, play with toys and share your childhood with others.

Our gardens comprise 27 acres of the remains of an 18th Century pleasure ground and wider parkland together with more formal 19th Century terraced parterres. The gardens have undergone very little development since the National Trust took ownership of the property in the 1960s and most is laid to lawn, with topiary and limited planting. We are lucky to have relatively complete records of the gardens dating back to the 16th Century which shows continuous dedication by the historic family to develop the garden in line with changing fashions and tastes.

Recently we launched an exciting Gardens Re-Development project to transform Sudbury’s gardens into a more colourful, engaging and interesting space. The project will celebrate the gardens long history, whilst delivering a fresh and contemporary re-design, merging high quality horticulture with an emphasis on nature, playfulness and discovery.

What you'll be doing

As the Head Gardener you’ll be working with our dedicated team of two members of staff and multiple volunteers to ensure that the Gardens of Sudbury are developed and maintained to the highest professional horticultural standards and that its distinctive specialness of place is preserved. You’ll implement garden conservation and management plans, based on sound environmental practices.

You’ll drive the gardens redevelopment project from scratch, working with colleagues and a wide range of stakeholders to generate ideas, make and finalise plans and get spades in the ground. Working at pace and with huge ambition, you’ll deftly juggle the day to day requirements of the management of the garden with planning for its future.

You’ll get involved with the interpretation and programming for our visitors. Delivering activities to gain visitors’ interest in the gardens, you’ll share your passion for our special place and instil a team culture of exceptional customer service by sharing stories and engaging with our visitors. You’ll also engage with local communities and others in our work and promote a culture of openness and involvement for all.

You’ll lead, motivate and supervise a team of volunteers, working together to share great standards of presentation. To deliver the gardens redevelopment project you will grow the team of garden volunteers by leading on recruitment and induction. You’ll also be an active member of the Sudbury leadership team and will use your knowledge and team insights to help make informed decisions. You’ll work with other colleagues across the portfolio and consultancy to constantly improve our visitor offer.

Who we're looking for

To deliver this role successfully you’ll need;

  • Significant practical experience in horticulture, supported by appropriate qualifications to RHS level 3 (or equivalent level of vocational experience)
  • Experience of organising garden activities which enhance garden visits
  • Leadership skills including coaching, team development, motivation and communication
  • Good people skills enabling strong relationships to be built and maintained externally and internally
  • Proven track record of managing budgets, finances and small projects
  • Experience in managing small contracts
  • Good written and verbal communication skills including public presentation, influencing and negotiating
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of all Health & Safety and Compliance requirements relevant to horticulture

The package

Looking after you

  • Health cash plan – from as little as £3.09 per month for you and your dependents
  • Pension contribution match up to 10%
  • EAP and proactive Health and Wellbeing
  • Discounted gym membership at over 100 leisure facilities across the country

Looking after your career

  • Grow your career through professional training courses across the Trust
  • Develop your skills with an internal secondment
  • Pay review linked to values and behaviours, commitment to progression
  • Income protection due to illness

Unique to Us

  • Work in some of the most beautiful, iconic and unique locations in the UK
  • Free entry to NT properties for you, a guest and your children (under 18)
  • 20% off in our Retail and Food & Beverage outlets
  • Discount up to 35% off a National Trust holiday cottage booking

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