We caught up with Alyce to find out why she enjoys her apprenticeship so much.
Who are you and what is your job?
“I am a Landscape Apprentice currently working for Grosvenor’s Landscape Management team. I’m currently studying a Level 3 Horticulture Supervisor apprenticeship at Capel Manor after completing the Level 2 from 2017.
We manage and maintain private and public green spaces, including public squares and new creations in the public realm, all within areas of prime real estate in central London. Landscape maintenance is a large part of my role, and I am responsible for creating and implementing new designs and planting areas across the estate.”
How did you get into horticulture?
“Being an outdoorsy and a practical person who enjoys learning with a hands-on approach, encouraged me to choose a career outside of an office environment. Starting off as an apprentice has enabled me to spend time amongst nature, and despite the job being physically hard at times, the results are very satisfying. My passion for horticulture developed soon after joining Grosvenor, during this time I realised there are many career opportunities within this industry.”
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
“Because of my lack of experience and knowledge about anything garden related, I thought my best option was to start with an apprenticeship. This has encouraged my confidence in the work that I produce, and I have been able to see my practical and theory knowledge and experience improve over the years.”
Were careers in horticulture/landscaping ever promoted at your school?
“I attended several different primary and secondary schools due to relocating many times, I can clearly say that the only school that promoted horticulture was my primary school in Cornwall. On reflection, I realise how much that school contributed to my love of nature and the outdoors. For my BTEC I studied Animal Management and Environmental Science at University (for a year). These courses also contained units for horticulture, which were not present in any of my secondary schools in London.”
What do you get up to on an average day in your role?
“The average day on the Grosvenor estate takes into consideration the safety of the residents that use the gardens. The daily tasks are organised into a weekly schedule, which help us keep up to date and organised. The jobs depend on the weather and the seasons, for example, in winter, gardening can be extremely hard due to cold conditions, but in essence your tasks are working towards preparing the areas for the spring. In spring and summer, it is all systems go with general garden maintenance, planting and nurturing new and established plants. Watering is one of the most challenging jobs, with temperatures sometimes reaching high 30’s at the height of summer. Leaf clearance takes priority in the autumn months, with there being so many trees on our estates (Over 900), especially Platanus × hispanica (London plane). We recycle 100% of our green waste weighing in at the equivalent of 6 double decker buses a year!
London’s microclimates lead to plants flourishing earlier, so our team will use their experience as opposed to books when it comes to understanding the plants and their environment.”
What do you enjoy about your job?
“The most enjoyable part of my job is having the freedom and opportunity to create newly designed aspects to our gardens. Taking ownership of those designs and seeing others enjoy what you have created is a great feeling. This part of my job also helps me improve my plant knowledge, learning new plant names in addition to their requirements. when implementing design’s, biodiversity is key, I base my plant pallet choice around nectar rich plants, taking inspiration from people like Piet Oudolf and Beth Chatto.
I have been fortunate to work for a company like Grosvenor, as I have been afforded the opportunity to grow my passion by attending events and meeting many professionals within the industry. The company I have also supported me undertaking various courses to expand my gardening skills. Lastly, being able to enjoy going to events like the Chelsea flower show, Hampton court and the seminars provided by London Gardens Network has all added to the enjoyment of my job.”
What are the specific skills you have learnt that are unique to this industry?
“One of the main skills I have learnt is how to plan efficiently and be organised to achieve the best result.
I have had many opportunities to problem solve, I have been able to adapt in many ways. I enjoy creating new and innovative ways of working to support me in my job.
Additionally, learning how to work well in a great team, made up of many different personalities and backgrounds, this has increased my ability to communicate effectively as a supervisor, this is essential when directing a team to achieve the best outcomes.
I have developed as a team leader on projects, which includes leading on maintenance tasks, or understanding the departments vision and design for our gardens and how we might achieve this. Acquiring these skills provides so many advantages to help you progress in your career and personal development.”
Why should people consider a career in horticulture/landscaping?
“A career in Horticulture and Landscape management opens doors in many different areas, allowing you to use your skills as a professional in locations across the world.
Although challenging at times, it is a rewarding career, and you will look at nature in a new and inspirational way.”