Horticultural Traineeship

Garden Museum
London (Greater)
The bursary for the scheme is £18,000 pro rata (£14,400 for 4 days per week) per annum.
01 Mar 2019
25 Mar 2019

Job Description

Horticultural Traineeship


The world’s first Museum dedicated to the art, design and history of gardens has recently re-opened after a £8 million restoration, refurbishment and extension.

The Museum is housed in an ancient church beside the River Thames and next door to Lambeth Palace; in the churchyard – and now the centrepiece of the new garden by Dan Pearson – is the famous tomb of John Tradescant, gardener to King Charles I, and Britain’s first celebrated horticultural hero.

The church has been rebuilt to insert five galleries of exhibits of garden history, and with galleries for changing exhibitions. This also provides space for London’s busiest programme of garden talks, with over fifty evening events each year, and weekend gatherings including a Spring Plant Fair (5th May).

A new extension, The Sackler Garden, has been built around and within a new garden designed by Dan Pearson. This extension has been built to expand our learning programme for schools, families and the local community.

The Museum is an independent charity, which receives no income from central or local government. The traineeship has been generously funded by The National Gardens Scheme and the Museum’s Friends group in Leicestershire and Rutland.


Description of the role

The Garden Museum’s Horticultural Traineeship has been designed to give a recent graduate of particular talent and ambition a chance to explore possibilities for their professional future by placing them at the centre of a busy gardening hub. The particular appeal of this traineeship is in its diversity of experiences, in facilitating introductions to the stars of the gardening world, and involvement in the Museum’s engaging public programme. It also includes the rare opportunity to work in many of Britain's finest historic and contemporary designed gardens: past examples have included sponsored placements at Lowther Castle, Great Dixter, Gravetye Manor and Little Dartmouth, and ‘shadowing’ experiences with garden designers such as Andy Sturgeon, Tom Stuart Smith and Nigel Dunnett. You will also have the opportunity to assist with the build of a show garden at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show.

Previous Trainees have gone on to roles as independent garden professionals, in media, parks management and tree surgery, and include Matt Collins, our Head Gardener and author of Forest, Walking Among Trees and My Tiny Flower Garden.

The Traineeship will run from May 2019 to May 2020.


Reports to

Matt Collins (Head Gardener)

Matt is Head Gardener at the Museum and at a London private garden, and a freelance garden writer, whose books include My Tiny Flower Garden and FOREST Walking Among Trees. www.mattcollinsgarden.co.uk


Person Specification

Applicants for the Traineeship should have:

  • Recently graduated from a recognised horticultural course, with RHS Level 2 or equivalent
  • Interest in garden history 
  • Interest in contemporary gardening issues
  • Ability to communicate with professional colleagues, volunteers and members of the public visiting the garden
  • Ability to work independently
  • Willingness to attend occasional evening and weekend events
  • Ability to work with a team of volunteers towards shared objectives

Main duties and responsibilities

The Trainee will work in the Museum gardens except during placements which take place once per month from between a day to a week (see below) and will add up to 20 days per year. Although the site is ancient the gardens are new, and comprised of the following components:

The centrepiece is The Sackler Garden, designed by Dan Pearson and planted in 2017. It is inspired by the continuing story of plant collecting – and will be added to with introductions by contemporary plant collectors – and as a collaboration with Dow Jones Architects in creating a horticultural oasis within a busy urban neighbourhood.

At the front of the site we have laid out a garden designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole in a contrasting formal style, and conceived as an urban piazza. Subject to funding work will continue on this garden during the year of the Traineeship.

The Bradley-Hole garden is set within a medieval churchyard, the tombs of which have been preserved; this shadier area of the garden has been planted by Matt Collins and is developing its own sense of horticultural place.

Other activities will include:

  • Continuing the development of a new cutting garden in an adjacent park named St Mary’s Gardens, working alongside Wolves Lane Flower Company, who are steering the project.
  • The west side of the extension has been designed as an orangery, which is now used for an eye-catching display of potted and cut flowers.


The role includes basic maintenance but also encompasses the chance to learn through working in showpiece gardens by major designers. It will also develop people skills as responsibilities will include:

  • Working with a team of volunteer gardeners and leading this team towards agreed objectives
  • Communicating with visitors and Friends of the Museum (for example, by preparing information on the garden and participating in group tours)
  • Support horticultural events e.g. the Spring Plant Fair, in which fifteen specialist nurseries exhibit at the Museum
  • The opportunity for at least one eye-catching personal project to show the Trainee’s talent and imagination


The Traineeship has been designed to offer placements, ‘shadowings’ and introductions, and applicants should be determined to make the most of this opportunity.

The programme will be designed in discussion with the successful applicant and will range from a day in the offices of an horticultural magazine to site visits with designers who are Trustees of the Museum and, as mentioned, participation in the build of a Chelsea Flower Show garden. These placements are expected to add up to 20 p.a., which are included in the 4 days per week of the role.

As said, the Trainee should make the most of being present at the events programme at the Museum, which draws together many within the horticultural world.



The contract is four days per week, and many include occasional Saturdays

The bursary for the scheme is £18,000 pro rata (£14,400 for 4 days per week) per annum.



20% discount in the Museum gift shop. 25% discount in the Garden Café on days when the trainee is working.


Equal Opportunities

The Garden Museum is working towards equal opportunities. The Garden Museum aims to be an inclusive organisation where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and where there is equal opportunity for all. The Garden Museum respects and values the diversity of its staff and users. Valuing diversity means that we recognise that we all have complex identities made up of many strands. These can include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical and mental aptitudes, nationality, socio-economic status, and religious, political or other beliefs. This means we embrace and celebrate our differences in a positive environment, and are committed to engage with the needs of our diverse staff and users to enable us to achieve our aims.



Please send CV and a covering letter explaining why you believe you would be a good candidate for the Traineeship to recruitment@gardenmuseum.org.uk marking the subject box ‘HORTICULTURAL TRAINEESHIP’, by Monday 25th March


In addition we require a reference from a recent college tutor or similar mentor.

We regret that we are unable to respond to all applicants and you will only hear from us if we wish to invite you to interview.


Short-listed candidates will be interviewed on Thursday 4th April by a panel comprising the Garden Museum Director, the Head Gardener, a long-standing garden volunteer, and a Garden Designer Trustee of the Museum. The second round of interviews will take place on Monday 8th April.


The Traineeship will run from May 2019 to May 2020.


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