Head Gardener

Employer
Crown Estate Paving Commission
Location
London
Salary
£34,000 - £39,000 - dependent on qualifications and experience
Closing date
27 Jun 2022

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Background

The Crown Estate Paving Commission is a unique statutory body charged since 1824 with the care and maintenance of the private residential gardens around Regent’s Park that are owned by the Crown Estate. Also in the Commission’s care are the Waterloo Gardens around Waterloo Place just off Pall Mall.

These historic gardens are maintained by a dedicated team of staff and include some of the most impressive garden spaces in central London. Measuring in excess of 18 acres, these gardens serve as attractive amenities to local Crown Estate residents and are part of the city’s green arteries important to Londoners and visitors alike. The Commission is independent of The Crown Estate, The Royal Parks and local authorities.

The gardens team is led by the Head of Landscape, currently has seven staff and is based at Regent’s Park. With the range of garden locations, the head gardening role is probably unique in London and should attract a horticultural professional who is an effective team leader and manager, keen to get the most out of the resources available and to improve these important gardens.

The successful appointee will need to have up-to-date and hands-on experience of horticultural best practice together with an in-depth knowledge of relevant health and safety codes of practice. The effective deployment of staff/contractors and transport are key factors in the success of our operations.

A good understanding of the cost drivers found in garden operations together with the ability to design and manage a well thought out and efficient maintenance programme is important. The ability to assess staff performance, training and development needs will be required, as will the ability to handle stakeholder contact in an articulate and persuasive manner.  A pro-active approach to problem solving is required.

Although long established and having benefitted from a recent programme of replanting, the gardens have scope for innovative development and improvements in line with their history and the adjacent Nash architecture, whilst also meeting the needs of the ongoing climate challenge.

The ability to understand, implement in practice and explain to residents and other stakeholders the Commission’s published planting principles and tree management strategy are important skills. A proven ability to work in central would be advantageous.   

The Commission has a team of circa 30 directly employed staff, headed by the Director, Nick Packard MRICS.

Further information can be found on our website.

Job title: Head Gardener

Reporting to: Head of Landscape

Contract: Permanent full-time

Location: 13 Park Square West, Regent’s Park, NW1

Job Purpose

The Crown Estate Paving Commission’s purpose is to maintain the streets, pavements and ornamental terrace gardens of The Crown Estate around Regent’s Park and to maintain gardens at Carlton House Terrace, St James’s.

The Head Gardener is to assist the Head of Landscape with the upkeep, maintenance, development and presentation of the c.18 acres of ornamental enclosures and other horticultural areas managed by the Commission at Regent’s Park Estate and Carlton House Terrace.  This involves managing the day-to-day on site work of the in-house gardens team and relevant contractors in an economic, efficient and safe manner.

Salary: £34,000 - £39,000 - dependent on qualifications and experience

The gardens team are responsible for the presentation of the Commission’s ornamental terrace gardens in line with the published planting principles, tree management strategy and garden visions.  The hard and soft landscaping elements of the gardens are maintained by the in-house team and relevant specialist contractors.

The Head Gardener role is a mix of hands-on gardening work along with administrative responsibility for organising, implementing and recording work within the gardens

Horticulture

  1. Present good quality, well maintained gardens that are an attractive amenity to residents in terms of their design/appearance and in accordance with the Commission’s published planting principles, tree management strategy and garden visions.
  2. Prepare and manage maintenance programmes that ensure all aspects of the gardens are kept to a high standard using best practice horticultural techniques.
  3. Assist the Head of Landscape in the design, planning and implementation of planting schemes in line with the Commission’s published planting principles, tree management strategy and garden visions.
  4. Arrange and oversee the annual review and condition survey of all trees, working with the Commission’s tree consultant.
  5. Manage pest, disease and weed control programmes using approved and safe methods of work.
  6. Develop and maintain a knowledge of the historical background of the gardens.  
  7. Identify technical and operational problems in the gardens.  Work practically and proactively to resolve such issues.
  8. Assist the Head of Landscape to make regular reports to the Director and Board of Commissioners on the management and progress of the gardens.
  9. Assist the Head of Landscape to maintain links with local stakeholders (including residents) and those interested in gardens around Regent’s Park.
  10. Work collaboratively with colleagues to ensure the effective management of events held within the gardens.

Staff, volunteer and contractor management

  1. Lead the gardens team in a way that ensures high standards/levels of performance and morale. Appraise the gardens team in conjunction with the Head of Landscape/Director (where relevant).  Propose and implement development plans to maintain or improve relevant skills/competence to ensure good horticultural practice in all operations. Deploy staff in an efficient manner through the effective supervision of the gardens team assisted by the Senior and Chargehand Gardeners. Develop and recommend a training programme with the Head of Landscape as part of the annual budget. Manage regular staff meetings to discuss team performance, communicate the Commission’s policies/information, receive feedback on work progress plus any areas of staff concern. Assist with inductions of new staff/garden volunteers. Monitor and oversee the operations of all external garden related contractors to maintain good standards and performance.

Equipment, vehicles and materials

  1. Negotiate with suppliers ordering plants, bulbs, shrubs, trees and all other garden materials within agreed budgets and quality standards. Process paperwork to agreed standards and organise deliveries. Assess garden equipment/vehicle/material needs and make recommendations to the Head of Landscape. Ensure storage and operational areas are safe, clean and tidy at all times. Ensure the safe maintenance, storage and operation of all garden equipment/vehicles/materials including keeping relevant records.

Health and Safety

  1. Work in cooperation with the Director, the Head of Landscape and other colleagues to ensure all relevant hygiene, health and safety regulations are met in all garden operations. Including monitoring exposure levels to any RIDDOR or other relevant conditions, keeping appropriate records and ensuring the safety of relevant colleagues. Develop and maintain documented safe systems of work.  Ensure that all members of the gardens team carry out their duties in a manner that protects their own safety, that of their colleagues, residents and the public. Ensure all accidents and near misses on site are recorded, analysed and lessons implemented. Ensure the safe and secure storage of all toxic and hazardous materials to COSHH and all other relevant regulations.

Finance & Reporting

  1. Assist the Head of Landscape in the preparation and regular monitoring of garden expenditure budgets. Assist the Head of Landscape in setting out proposals for work programmes in the gardens for consideration as part of the Commission’s annual budget. Manage, maintain and monitor the staff-time and materials costing system that allocates resources to individual gardens. Implement agreed improvements to the system to ensure its appropriateness and accuracy. Generate Purchase Orders for contractors.  Check completed work, review and sign off invoices ensuring they are appropriately coded in line with the Commission’s accounting system. Advise the Head of Landscape on the performance and appointment of garden contractors including reviewing completed works, negotiation of contracts, budgets, and service standards.

Other duties

  1. The post holder will be expected to carry out from time to time any other duties that may reasonably be required of the role of Head Gardener.

Skills and aptitude required

Knowledge and Training:

  • Excellent general horticultural & plant knowledge
  • Several years’ experience of staff team management
  • Practical application of Health & Safety best practice
  • Recognised horticultural qualifications
  • Full UK driving licence
  • Knowledge of plant and tree disorders
  • Excellent knowledge of garden design principles
  • Knowledge of garden history
  • Spraying certificates PA1 & PA6a
  • Wide horticultural interests
  • Competence with modern information technology

Ability to:

  • Deal calmly, courteously, efficiently but firmly with residents, consultants, contractors and others
  • Clearly and concisely communicate verbal and written information on relevant technical matters
  • Manage a team of in house colleagues plus external contractors and consultants
  • Cope with a demanding workload, working flexibly and collaboratively as part of a small team
  • Manage time, projects and priorities effectively
  • Excellent hands-on horticultural and plant identification skills
  • Ability to handle successful interactions with residents and the public
  • Good knowledge of garden equipment and machinery, its safe operation and maintenance
  • Good understanding of hard landscaping techniques
  • Commute to central London
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