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Head Gardener

National Trust
Blickling Estate, Aylsham, Norfolk, NR11 6NF
£27,735 pa
Closing date
25 Jul 2021
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Job Details

We are offering an exciting opportunity to lead the garden team at Blickling Estate as Head Gardener. We are looking for a Head Gardener with a wealth of experience, a creative eye, sound plant knowledge and leadership skills.

This is a permanent full-time contract with paid holidays, plus free National Trust membership, a company pension scheme, with Perks at Work Scheme and 20% Discount in all National Trust shops and National Trust holidays.

What it's like to work here

Blickling is an extraordinary place, an historic country estate with deep-rooted ties to the pastoral Norfolk landscape it typifies. The estate is spread over 4,600 acres, including landscaped gardens, extensive parkland, numerous tenanted cottages and agricultural land.

Widely accepted as the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, Blickling has been the backdrop for political intrigue, home to a duelling baronet, a king’s mistress and was a base for British, American and Canadian troops during the Second World War. It was also the first complete estate to be gifted to the National Trust under the Country House Scheme by its last private owner, the visionary Lord Lothian.

The grade I listed Jacobean Hall is home to one of the most significant country house libraries in England, with over 12,500 volumes making up the largest and oldest book collection in the charity’s care. The gardens have evolved and changed over time and with various owners, with a walled garden, parterre and mixed woodland as some of its features. The parkland includes ancient woodland, grazing pastures and a rare chalk stream, and allows visitors the opportunity to experience nature and wilderness alongside the agricultural function that has been part of its fabric for centuries.

At Blickling, conservation and welcoming everyone are at the heart of what we do. We are a supportive team who work together to achieve our goals, with all aspects of the estate playing an important part of the stories we tell and how we look after this amazing place.

What you'll be doing

The Head Gardener's role is all about the conservation, day to day management and maintenance of a highly important garden. You’ll ensure the Gardens are developed and maintained to the highest professional horticultural standards and that the distinctive specialness of place is preserved. You’ll lead the team to deliver a wide range of practical horticultural tasks and project delivery, always thinking creatively about biodiversity, environment and engagement.  You’ll get involved with interpretation and programming for our visitors, share your passion for our special place and instil a team culture of exceptional customer service. You’ll also engage with local communities and partners in our work and promote a culture of openness and involvement for all.

Collaboration is at the heart of this role. You will be an active member of the senior leadership team, working with the rest of the property to support operations and develop opportunities, with a focus on conservation and what makes Blickling unique, including its significance as a holistic estate. You will work closely with the countryside team to share tasks and learning, achieving goals around biodiversity and connection to nature.

You’ll have strong people management experience and will lead with confidence, inspiring your team of staff and volunteers with a clear vision for the gardens. You’ll prioritise and allocate tasks appropriately and within budget while always thinking of the bigger picture and the vision for the garden.

The gardens, landscapes and countryside are a significant part of what makes the Trust special, with visitors telling us how much they enjoy the peace and tranquillity of our well-kept outdoor spaces. Your role is vital in making sure they have an amazing experience.Weekend and bank holiday working is a requirement of this role.  We anticipate this being at least one weekend day a month and participating in our Duty Manager rota.Please also read the full role profile and additional details attached to this advert.

Who we're looking for

  • Experience of managing teams of gardeners and volunteers
  • A love for sharing your knowledge and experience with volunteers, staff and team   
  • Excellent organisational and communication skills
  • A desire to work collaboratively and creatively
  • RHS Level 3 (or equivalent) as well as practical gardening/horticulture experience
  • An excellent understanding of horticultural techniques and plant identification.
  • 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 articles:

Do you have the vision to transform our outdoor spaces for the future?

What makes the National Trust a special place to work?

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