Head Gardener and House Keeper
South West Coast of Ireland
Competitive Salary + accommodation and bills paid.
If you love old gardens and are happy living in a small community we have a fabulous opportunity to become our next head gardener. Derreen is a magical 80 acre garden planted from about 1860 onwards with miles of paths winding through it. We are open to the public year round and have a café in the summer months.
The garden at Derreen is going through a period of structural transformation that will highlight the original intentions behind the garden and also release some of the rare and unusual plants from competition with others in the collection. The garden also contains a wonderful collection of specimen trees, hardy hybrid and species rhododendrons and an astonishing population of tree ferns, many of which are self-sown seedlings. The unique mild and wet climate ensures everything grows really well. This is a very exciting moment in the history of the garden. There's a small team caring for the estate at Derreen and our House Keeper is retiring so we are also looking for someone to take on the daily care and management of the main house, it’s used by various family members and close friends throughout the year. If you are a couple who feel this sounds like the challenge for you then please read on.
If you have experience working in a similar historic garden, managing a small team of gardeners and supervising contractors this role may suit you. We would like you to have at least an RHS Level 2 qualification in horticulture, 3-5 years experience in a supervisory or leadership role and the appropriate certificates to do the job like using a chainsaw and application of pesticides. You should have a keen interest in plants and a willingness to learn more about the collection here to support its development in the future. Your role will also include the management of the greenhouse for the production of salad, tomatoes and some veg in the summer and the protection and propagation of plants year round. We also plant spring and summer pots for display and organise plants for sale at the café.
We are striving to ensure we manage all aspects of work at Derreen in a safe manner and experience in risk assessments and risk management would be desirable. The ability to assess and diagnose trees at risk and in poor health would be of great benefit, however training can be provided at a later date. We have the usual machinery needed to care for a garden like this and having the skills to repair on occasion, maintain and ensure they are all in good working order is essential.
You will have good communication skills and be happy to have weekly catch up meetings with the owner, communicate with the local agent regularly and assist with engagement opportunities locally. We would require you to live on site in a newly refurbished three-bedroom cottage to oversee the security of the garden, house and plant collection.
Derreen is a rural estate and you will find yourself doing jobs that are unique to the place.
Our house is not open to the public but we do let it out sometimes, mainly to our extended family and the house needs to be cleaned and prepared between visits. Our housekeeper ensures heating oil is ordered, lights are in good working order, contractors have access to the house, boilers are serviced, log baskets are full and the house is secure. The housekeeper and the garden team work closely to ensure everything works well here.
In the winter when the house is empty someone needs to go in about once a week to check for burst pipes, mice or mould and anything else that can occur in an old house!
The café team are responsible for cleaning the 3 visitors toilets during the summer months but they do need to be cleaned in the winter once a week too and our house keeper does this for us.
Take a reading of the rainfall daily so we can send the figures to the met office. I have to admit it does rain a lot!
Our retired housekeeper lives nearby, is exceptionally nice and would be happy to show you the ropes.