Head Gardener

Organisation: The National Trust for Scotland

Salary: £35,579 - £39,358 pro-rata, per annum

Location: Pitmedden & Haddo House


Pitmedden Garden is a vibrant and exciting garden to work within. Its long and varied history underpins the whole estate and its management with the gardens forming a major part of the overall visitor experience. The gardens are always evolving within its historical framework both as a formal layout and as a living work of art.

Pitmedden is known for its Great Garden, originally created in the late 17th century by Sir Alexander Seton. While that framework remains the current main content there has been the recent addition of a major garden development created by an award-winning designer.

The garden is divided by many fine walls with gates and pillars. The main feature of the lower terraces are the Parterres; based on James Gordon’s 1647 designs of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Herbaceous borders were added at the time of the Trust’s re-development along with many wall trained Fruit trees and Orchards. The designed landscape extends out to the rectilinear features of field enclosures and drives and overlaid with informal elements such as ponds and dykes. It is lightly wooded with tree belts and small woodlands.

Haddo House gardens are a vibrant and exciting garden to work within. Its long and varied history underpins the whole estate and its management with the gardens forming an integral part of the overall visitor experience. The gardens are always evolving within its historical framework both as a plantsman’s garden and as a living work of art.
The formal gardens have resonance with Pitmedden in content and style while having their own character. Annual bedding schemes alongside informal open woodland enhance vistas that permeate to the wider designed landscape of the Haddo Estate.

This job exists to ensure that the garden and policies of Pitmedden Garden and Haddo House are managed and maintained as nationally recognised gardens of high horticultural importance, contributing to the property’s overall conservation and development, and its enjoyment by visitors and supporters in line with the Trust conservation procedures and Heritage Garden Management Plan.


The Key Purposes of the job will be met by:

1. Ensuring the conservation and practical maintenance of the garden and policies – whether through delegation to other staff/volunteers, or personal participation – in terms of:

a. Practical horticulture (e.g., managing trees and shrubs, roses, herbaceous plants, vegetable and fruit gardens and bulbs; turf care; pest/disease/weed control; composting and soil improvement; hard landscaping; path care, plant propagation; plant sales management, tree care, Arboricultural techniques, care & maintenance of garden machinery, tractors, and estate management equipment).
b. Plantsmanship (e.g., the identification, recording (using Plant databases), labelling of individual plants and other collections).
c. Research and development (e.g., research into historical precedents and practical contemporary solutions to inform proposed activities and projects).
d. Interpretation (e.g., through the development and delivery of events such as introductory talks, guided tours or practical demonstrations, contribution to guidebooks or leaflets).

2. Ensuring an appropriate management regime of the gardens and policies that includes the management of:
a. Staff: including the Regional Grass Cutter and volunteers (recruitment, induction, development, performance management) such that they are fully equipped and motivated to undertake their duties to the required Trust standards.
b. budgets (setting, phasing, monitoring, pro-active and re-active adjustments) such that both gardens’ finances are sustainable within the context of the wider property budgets.
c. health, safety and the environment in line with stated Trust policies and approaches to ensure the health and welfare of staff/volunteers.
d. recognition of the Trust’s Environmental Policy with respect to sustainable gardening activities, including energy, water, recycling, carbon reduction, peat & pesticide-use.
e. daily, weekly, yearly and longer-term operational work plans and reporting in the context of the properties’ statements of significance and action plans (and contribution to these action plans) to ensure that activities are prioritised and planned to optimize the use of resources.
f. customer service and care from garden staff/volunteers, and in the broader sense of facilities and “visiting experience”, to ensure that the properties’ reputation for excellence is maintained and enhanced.
g. Taking a lead property role in monitoring and reporting on hazardous tree inspections
h. administration to enable gardening activities to be undertaken and recorded efficiently.

3. Participating fully in the property’s wider “management team” including
a. supporting the Operations manager strategically and practically with the operation of the properties, and assuming the role of “duty manager” as required
b. taking an active role in promoting the gardens and properties through digital media, events, workshops, presentations, and talks.
c. Managing turf areas, traffic flow and protecting the estate landscape features during major events including supervision of contractors.
d. Snow, ice, and storm management
e. Fire and security duties on a rota basis

The current duties of this job do require a criminal records (Disclosure Scotland) check to be carried out.

Application Deadline: Sunday 04/02/2024