Head Gardener

National Trust
TN3 8JN, Tunbridge Wells
Closing date
24 Jan 2021

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Full Time
Gardening Jobs

Job Details


We're looking for a Head Gardener to join our Property Leadership team and lead our Garden team, inspiring confidence, able to adapt quickly to new ways of working and apply their technical knowledge to a range of different tasks.

What it's like to work here

This country house, romantic garden and fairy-tale castle are set within a beautiful wooded estate. Scotney Castle is a big growth property in the region, with the team working to improve the visitor experience and facilities. Family-friendly activities at the site include a natural play trail, den building and summer adventures. You'll need your own transport to get here, however this is an exciting time to join the team within a fast-changing and innovative location.

There are regular garden tours for visitors to get involved in and a beautiful walled garden selling local produce and plants. This is A Site of Special Scientific Interest with green-winged orchids and rare plants abound in the wild grass meadows.

What you'll be doing

The Head Gardener's role is all about the conservation, preservation, day to day management and maintenance of one of the finest examples of a picturesque gardens in the country. You’ll have extensive plant knowledge, be green fingered and hands-on. You’ll have strong people management experience and you will lead with confidence, inspiring your team of staff and volunteers with a clear vision for the gardens. You’ll understand the standards required of a Nationally Significant garden and you’ll make sure that Scotney Castle is maintained and presented consistently and well.

You’ll be responsible for the day-to-day management of the garden staff and volunteers and lead your team to deliver a wide range of practical horticultural tasks. You must have the confidence, knowledge and experience to maintain a high level of horticultural standards. You’ll develop, enhance and conserve the garden and ensure the smooth and professional delivery of projects. You’ll be responsible for the garden operational and need budgets, prioritise and allocate tasks appropriately and within budget while always thinking of the bigger picture and the vision for the garden and its place within the vision of the whole property.

You’ll conserve and build on the restoration work and planning that has already been done while exploring new ways to enhance the garden and share both the historic and living story of our garden with our visitors. Ensuring a high quality, engaging, and enjoyable visitor experience will be at the heart of all you do. You will lead by example and inspire you team to engage with our visitors, both through good ongoing interpretation of our history and how we continue to care for the garden, and through creating exciting programmes for education and engagement that create reasons to return and support our cause. You'll also be confident working with local partners and other interested groups.

This role involves working as a central part of the Property Leadership Team influencing and supporting the development of new plans and projects. As a Priority Property for Investment it is an exciting time to join our team as we continue to plan for the development of our property offer, our visitor infrastructure, and enlarge our contribution to the Trust’s strategy. You will represent the garden discipline as we work together to meet the challenges the future brings, keeping our offer in tune with our 'Spirit of Place', while giving our visitors an exceptional experience. As part of the Property Leadership Team you will have Duty Management responsibilities one day a week and one weekend in three. Reporting directly to the General Manager you will also deputise for the GM on occasions and be able to fully represent all areas of our Portfolio’s work both within the National Trust and externally with stakeholders, supporters, the local community and with our members.

Scotney is a lively exciting dynamic place to work where there is always something going on. We’re looking for someone with energy, passion and drive. If you're up to the challenge, then we want to hear from you!

lease also read the additional documents about this role.

Who we're looking for

Applications from internal employees who are under notice of redundancy are assessed against the minimum criteria listed below. All other applicants may be assessed against other criteria in the advert and role profile.

Any employees under notice of redundancy who meet the minimum criteria will progress to the next stage. In your application please provide details of how you meet the criteria for this role.

  • Experience of managing teams of gardeners and volunteers
  • A love for sharing your knowledge and experience with volunteers, staff and visitors
  • Excellent organisational and communication skills
  • RHS Level 3 (or equivalent) as well as practical gardening/horticulture experience
  • An excellent understanding of horticultural techniques and plant identification
  • Experience and relevant tickets for using garden machinery
  • An understanding of Health & Safety and sustainable garden practices


The National Trust is described by its employee gardeners as “dynamic, supportive, inquisitive and fun”, where its beautiful places “lift your spirits naturally” and “somewhere you can expand new skills”. The organisation is currently recruiting for a number of gardening roles. 

Read more in our latest Wonderful Workplaces article: What makes the National Trust a special place to work?

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