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Assistant Head Gardener

Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens
Depending on Experience
Closing date
12 May 2024

Job Details


One of the finest woodland gardens in the country, Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens is set over 240 acres with superb collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and bluebells. The landscaped gardens are Grade I listed and currently undergoing restoration and improvements. Features include a celebrated rock garden, arboretum, pinetum, seven lakes and miles of walking trails.

The job–holder will be part of a major innovative and collaborative project in a setting with great potential for someone with horticultural experience of major restoration projects.

The Assistant Head Gardener, under the leadership and guidance of the Head Gardener, manage a team responsible for making Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens an enjoyable, original, exciting, safe venue as well as a rewarding experience for visitors, staff and volunteers alike. The position will be involved in developing and maintaining an attraction which has again become a worthy addition to the county.

The Assistant Head Gardener will provide management of the garden team, under the leadership of the Head Gardener, ensuring that the gardens and specific areas of the designed landscape are restored, presented and maintained in line with relevant conservation plans as required and to high standards.

Ultimately responsible to the Head gardener and Estate Manager and working with project partners, the Assistant Head Gardener will undertake the day to day duties involved in the development and management of the estate. In undertaking this work, public access and enjoyment will be balanced with the protection and enhancement of the cultural, environmental, historic and ecological features of the estate.

The role, given this project has now become open to the public, will be important in continuing to bring the estate back to its original splendour. The role will be responsible for the ‘hands-on’ management of the Estate and all of its diverse and contrasting components. E.g. Rock Gardens, deer park, Lakes, and gardens.

The job holder will have a proven track record in the management of parks and gardens of special historic and ecological interests open to the public, together with the ability to demonstrate a commitment and enthusiasm for delivering the highest quality visitor-focussed services, working to high standards within tight budgets and deadlines.



To include:

  • Responsibility for the Day to day management of Gardening team
  • Responsibility for the Day to day management of Volunteers
  • Assist in ensuring that Leonardslee is maintained to exceptional standards
  • Involvement and performance of a range of practical horticultural tasks to develop, enhance and conserve the garden
  • Contribute to the delivery of projects and the ongoing restoration of the gardens
  • Maintain high levels of horticulture, prioritising workloads across the garden whilst continually considering the overall vision for the garden
  • To work with the Head Gardener to successfully and proactively innovate, develop, plan, manage and maintain all aspects of the gardens at Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens
  • To manage the workload across the garden and help adapt and adjust to priorities.
  • Responsibility for management of garden volunteers. Supporting and helping volunteers to make the most of their experience with the Estate
  • Taking a lead on training and management of Gardening Team apprentices and within the government and training entity guidelines
  • To effectively manage and develop the gardening team (employees, apprentices and volunteers).
  • Manage and motivate staff and volunteers, including identifying training needs, development and up-skilling for their future development and promotion.
  • Competently address contemporary environmental issues
  • To work with the rest of the estate management team to ensure our visitors have the best experience they can
  • Manage and curate the gardens and grounds of the estate so that its plantings, ecology, history, archaeology and design are conserved, documented and presented to the highest standards
  • Plan and deliver costed operational work plans/ programmes on time and within available resources
  • Responsible for all aspects of management and training of horticulture apprentices in their team (and in line with the Apprenticeship agreements entered into, guidelines and requirements with the apprentice’s college), including maintaining all training records, and responsible for the welfare of apprentices at work
  • Assist the Head Gardener with the operation, infrastructure and plantings of the estate, as well as assisting with maintaining safe and enjoyable access, monitoring and security for the site.
  • Maintain Health & Safety and Environmental Regulations, including the monitoring and maintenance of a safe work area, to ensure safety and welfare, including in line with Company policy
  • Assist in ensuring safe and correct working practices for the site
  • Ensure strict awareness and compliance with all Health & Safety work practices including ensuring all required training in this regard has been undertaken, maintaining all training records and certification, for themselves and their team
  • Ensure all risk assessments and competency records are created and reviewed
  • Reporting and recording any accidents and dangerous occurrences
  • Visibly demonstrate commitment to and compliance with the safety rules
  • Collaborate with relevant organisations to build and maintain positive working relationships with communities and organisations at a local, regional and where applicable national level
  • Contribute to the work of the team and provide support and cover for the other members of staff
  • In cooperation with colleagues, engage with our visitors through undertaking both an informal and formal interpretive role
  • Maintain tools and equipment and storage facilities

Undertake such other related duties commensurate with the level of responsibility and remuneration for the post that may be assigned by the Head Gardener or Estate Manager.


To include:

  • Proven track record of experience in people management. Experience of managing a team of gardeners and volunteers in a large public garden essential.
  • Passionate and enthusiastic about horticulture, with an eye for detail and experience working with collections of rare and unusual plants. Pride in the gardens and comfortable and confident in sharing knowledge with interested visitors.
  • Practical horticulture experience and an excellent understanding of horticultural techniques and plant identification.
  • Specific skills will include sound plant knowledge, propagation and pest & disease management.
  • Will also possess skills in arboricultural techniques.
  • ‘Green-fingered’ and ‘hands-on’
  • Be highly motivated, well organised and have excellent practical skills with the ability to propagate plants from seeds and cuttings. Including vegetable growing and harvesting.
  • Expected to work closely on the long term development of the garden and advise on various projects, and therefore should be knowledgeable about garden design and have excellent plant knowledge in keeping with the estate’s flora.
  • Plan, carry out and monitor plant and tree care programs including design, landscaping, propagation, planting, irrigation, weeding, grass cutting, trimming and general garden maintenance.
  • you will have RHS Level 3, or demonstrable equivalent experience.
  • PA1 and PA6 is preferable but not essential.
  • A current first aid certificate preferable but not essential
  • Experience of using garden machinery
  • Experience working with contractors
  • Will have excellent interpersonal skills

Additional Benefits: 

  • Competitive package 
  • Discounted Food and Beverage, plus accommodation within the Group.
  • Use of facilities at our sister venue, Mannings Heath Estate.
  • Free family membership.
  • Complimentary tickets to events.


Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens in thought to be the finest Woodland Garden in England, famed for its outstanding displays of Rhodedendrons, Azaleas and Camelias the garden is truly a special place. The 250 acre Grade 1 listed garden has recently re-opened after 9 years of complete neglect and is under new ownership.  

Company info
07813 871020
Lower Beeding
West Sussex
RH13 6PP

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