Garden Trainee

Organisation: The National Trust for Scotland

Salary: £24,960 pro-rata, per annum

Location: Threave Estate

The Garden Trainee role at Threave Garden will provide the post-holders with development in a broad range of work-based practical horticultural skills over the course of a year spent as part of the team there. The training will be based primarily around the content of the RHS Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture, but additional enhancements will also be available. Our aim is to take people who have undertaken a horticultural apprenticeship, an academic horticultural qualification or who have proven practical gardening experience and to develop them further into the rounded skilled, craft professional gardeners that the heritage garden sector, including the National Trust for Scotland, requires.


The year at Threave comprises paid day-to-day work in the garden alongside practical training and assessment of skills, knowledge and behaviours. The RHS Level 2 training is supplemented by several assessed assignments designed to enhance trainee learning. This includes fortnightly plant identification tests, keeping a diary, completing plant profiles and participation in a study tour (visiting a number of gardens and nurseries to gain a greater appreciation of the variety a career in horticulture can provide) from which a report is requested.

The Garden Trainees are overseen by our teaching staff of Gardener Instructors, seasoned experts in their fields who have worked in a wide range of gardens themselves. The garden has three department areas: the grounds (lawns, hedges, herbaceous borders, woody plants, alpines, hard landscapes, aquatic, and bog), the walled garden, and the glasshouses. The Garden Trainee will work in each of these areas, moving between them on a rota basis, to ensure in-depth training across the seasons. Trainees will work alongside the Gardener Instructors, other garden staff and volunteers, receiving hands-on practical tuition. There will be some classroom time, however this is primarily a practical role where trainees will spend the majority of the time working and learning in the garden. Study and assignments will be completed largely in their own time. Trainee only shared accommodation within easy walking distance is available for rent.


While in the garden the Garden Trainee will be formally line managed by the Head Gardener and will have the support, guidance and direction from other members of staff they are allocated to work alongside. The employment is for a fixed period of 1 year, subject to continued progression on the course with acceptable practical performance.
Trainees will be expected to take responsibility for their learning which will include out of hours study, practice of skills and/or project work.


The School of Heritage Gardening, based at Threave Garden was formed in 1960, shortly after the National Trust for Scotland took ownership of the property. For over 60 years we have been teaching horticultural skills and techniques to aspiring professional gardeners. Former trainees have gone on to have successful careers in the industry, many choosing to stay with the Trust.

Threave Garden is perfectly suited for a range of training requirements, having been created over the years by students, for students, to accommodate a variety of horticultural situations. The garden has a large and diverse plant collection set within an extensive landscape and includes features such as a rock garden, fruit and vegetables, ponds, naturalised bulbs, woodland, orchard, nursery, lawns, herbaceous beds, mixed borders, and glasshouses. This purposefully broad array of garden landscapes, plants and features ensures that trainees are able to receive an extensive and well-rounded education, covering many aspects found in a career in horticulture.

Threave is an approved centre to deliver Royal Horticultural Society qualifications, one of only a handful across Scotland.

Application Deadline: Sunday 28/04/2024