Jen Keyte

Jen Keyte

Horticultural Apprectice

Working as a member of the Horticulture team in the Garden, this apprentice position is intended for someone motivated to pursue a career as a professional horticulturist and will enable you, to get a qualification while developing your horticultural skills and contributing to the maintenance and development of the Garden. All staff are expected to support and contribute to the Garden’s core mission of conservation, education, sustainable development and enjoyment of the visitor.
Key Duties and Responsibilities
1. Participating with in-house practical training in all aspects of garden management and maintenance, working alongside our skilled horticulturists, horticulture trainees and volunteers leading to the City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Work-based Horticulture (QCF). This will involve informal work-based assessments including plant identification and keeping a work diary.
2. Contributing consistently and responsibly, both individually and as team members, together with others to horticultural responsibilities in the Garden. This includes, but is not limited to: specific horticultural skills development; contributing ideas for improvements; and taking personal responsibility for increasing your own levels of skill and competence.
3. Apprentices will be rotated around the different areas of the Garden under the guidance of experienced horticulturists, so as to gain practical experience and skills with each of the Horticultural Teams. This will include propagation and nursery maintenance; development and maintenance of tropical and mediterranean collections in glasshouses; working with the trees and parkland team; and care and general amenity of plantings and vegetable cultivation in the Double Walled Garden and Broadwalk.
4. Apprentices will be expected to take part in placements/exchanges of approximately 4 weeks over 2 years with other partner gardens or horticultural businesses, and will be encouraged to participate and gain confidence in public engagement activities and giving presentations.
5. Opportunities to gain appropriate NPTC qualifications will be provided.
6. Participation in training through day release leading to the successful achievement of RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principals of Horticulture. This will involve formal taught courses and assessments.

MAIN WORK TASKS will include:
7. General border maintenance, i.e. weeding, pruning, digging, mulching.
8. Assistance with grass-cutting and other operations using a range of machinery. Day-to-day care and routine maintenance of the machinery.
9. Maintenance of the glasshouse collections, i.e. watering, potting-on, fertilising, pruning. Understanding the impact and control of different aspects of the glasshouse environment.
10. Propagation of new material for the hardy and tender collections.
11. Assisting with the development of new areas and site-wide planting.
12. Maintenance of accurate records of the plant collections.
13. Taking account of Health and Safety in horticultural operations both in relation to personal health and welfare, and that of others.
14. Taking part in the weekend watering rota (currently approximately one weekend in six but under review) for which time off in lieu is given.
15. Undertaking any other duties as reasonably required by your line manager

I started as an apprentice here at the gardens back in November 2017, time has flown since then and I have already learnt a lot and gained many new skills. My route into horticulture wasn’t a straight forward one; I originally was studying for a hispanic degree at university level but being a practical person I just longed to be outside doing stuff! Having left Uni, I went to Brazil for 7 months where I spent a lot of time in rural communities, with local ecologists, walking in national parks and connecting with nature. I became inspired by people that really understood the natural world that grew their own food and medicine whilst conserving and protecting the landscape. Back in the UK, I was overjoyed when I was offered a place on the scheme here in Wales. Although I applied for other schemes and questioned even going back to university to study plant science, I loved the idea of being able to work and earn whilst gaining the practical skills and studying for my RHS level 2. The apprenticeship has gone above and beyond my expectations; I’ve been able to do a lot of independent studying using the library, whilst absorbing the knowledge of the many seniors that have years of experience to their name. The working environment is supportive and positive which I love, and to top everything off is the joy waking up to a beautiful and wild Welsh landscape every morning (even if it is a bit wet!) There is so much to see and explore on the weekends too! I say to anyone who is keen to work hard whatever the weather and passionate to learn about plants, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales Apprenticeship offers a brilliant opportunity to do so.