NGS safeguarding the future of Cornwall's garden treasures
PUBLISHED: 13:16 07 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:16 07 May 2014
Amongst the many beneficiaries of the National Garden Scheme's 'Open Gardens for Charity' is a programme run by the National Trust to ensure the vital pool of qualified gardeners does not dry up
Called the Garden Academy, it replaces the old career-ship scheme. The training is delivered as two separate courses, a one year foundation course and a two year National Trust diploma in Heritage Gardening. Training is full-time, blending practical experience in National Trust gardens with technical and theoretical training at Reaseheath College, Cheshire.
Chair of the NGS Cornwall, Bryan Coode, said: “The National Trust’s programme is invaluable. The maintenance, creation and restoration of gardens everywhere is essential. In Cornwall in particular gardens are an integral part of the culture, the beauty, the heritage and the financial future of the county.
“Gardens are also important to general health and well being. It’s a well known fact that gardeners live longer and recent medical trials have proved that having a view of a garden during illness speeds recovery by 30%.”
Caroline Danks, Fund Raising Manager for the National Trust SW Region, said: “We are so grateful to the NGS for recognising the need for specially trained gardeners and for funding this scheme which has seen 200 individuals train as gardeners in National Trust properties. Many now work as full time, professional gardeners at National Trust, private and other major gardens at home and abroad including Chatsworth, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh and Bristol Botanic Gardens, the Eden Project and RHS Rosemoor, Devon.
One of those currently employed on the programme and working towards a Diploma in Heritage Gardening at Cornwall’s stunning Cotehele garden is Jane Hammacott. Jane originally trained as a secondary school science teacher but chose to leave the profession and fulfill her passion for gardening.
Jane explained: “I’ve always loved gardening so I offered myself as a volunteer. I worked at Cotehele for 18 months before I applied for the NGS funding, supporting myself by tutoring ‘A’ level biology students and marking GCSE papers.
“The NGS funds made the National Trust programme possible and that has changed my life. It’s hard work and has been a steep learning curve but I’m a much happier person. Cotehele has a very special atmosphere - it is tucked away, high up above the banks of the River Tamar and has the feel of a lost world. It is a fantastic place to work because it is a place people visit to relax and it is nice to feel that I have made a contribution to people’s enjoyment.”
Jane is due to complete her qualification at the end of the summer and as a direct result of her training has secured a permanent job at RHS Rosemoor.