Highdown Gardens Plant Heritage Officer

Highdown Gardens, Goring by Sea, near Worthing, West Sussex
Starting salary £29,636 per annum
31 Jul 2019
21 Aug 2019
Full Time
Contract Type

Highdown Gardens (www.highdowngardens.co.uk) is a Grade II* listed garden of global importance set on the chalk downs near Worthing in West Sussex.  Originally laid out by Sir Frederick Stern from Edwardian plant hunter-collected specimens, the gardens were bequeathed to Worthing Borough Council in 1968 upon his death.  For over 50 years, the Council has maintained free-of-charge entry to these important gardens.  In 1989, the gardens were recognised by the NCCPG (now Plant Heritage), and were awarded the status of housing a National Collection of plants collected by Sir Frederick Stern.  The multi-genera National Collection is extensive, the unifying feature of the different plants being a tolerance of chalk.  However, the plant heritage is at risk due to the age of the collection, the fragility of the chalk environment given climate change, and physical damage by visitors who do not understand the importance of the collection.

To address these increasing risks, Worthing Borough Council has applied for, and has recently been awarded National Lottery Heritage Funding.  Protecting the National Collection by the setting up of a propagation programme and educating visitors is core to the project.

As a result, an exciting opportunity has arisen to manage and care for the National Collection plants at Highdown Gardens.  This position is a 3 year fixed term post funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  The successful applicant will report into the Highdown Head Gardener.

Applicants must have extensive horticultural knowledge, and be passionate and skilled in plant identification and propagation.  A self-starter, the successful candidate will identify and validate plants in the National Collection, create and deliver a prioritised propagation programme and develop relationships with other collection holders or gardens where propagated material will be shared. 

In addition, the successful applicant will be responsible for developing a propagation facility where visitors can view, take part in and learn about propagation techniques used within the gardens. 

The position has no direct line management responsibilities, but the post holder will be required to develop and train volunteers and staff on propagation techniques. 

A Job Description and Person Specification are attached.

Please apply for this role directly on the Council's recruitment website:


No CVs or agency applications will be accepted.

The closing date for applications is midnight Wednesday 21 August 2019.

Interviews will be held Thursday 29 August 2019 at Highdown Gardens.  The interview will include plant identification, and a practical demonstration / presentation.

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