Fulham Palace apprenticeships

Growing skills, experience and knowledge with Fulham Palace garden apprenticeships

The Fulham Palace apprenticeship is a full time 18 month practical work placement. Our apprentices learn skills on the job alongside attending horticultural college once a week to gain a formal horticultural qualification, usually an RHS level two. We aim to provide the apprentice the experience, knowledge and competence they need to progress their careers in horticulture, specialising in public historic gardens.

Our apprenticeship scheme started in September 2012. Former apprentices have gone on to a variety of other horticultural experiences including becoming gardeners at Windsor Castle, Great Dixter and Syon House, becoming Kew Diploma students, trainees at RHS Harlow Carr and Chelsea Physic Garden to name a few.

The Fulham Palace apprenticeship is considered an entry into horticulture and an opportunity to get off the starting blocks into the industry. We require candidates to demonstrate an enthusiasm for the subject and to have some basic practical skills already.  A willingness to learn new horticultural skills and botanical plant names including families is essential.

The apprenticeship provides a vast and varied practical horticultural experience, working towards developing the gardens as well as maintaining the existing garden features. This includes operating machinery, managing the vegetables crops in the walled garden, growing flowers and fruit trees, tending to the botanical collections, historic species borders and general garden maintenance across the whole 13 acres.

Apprentices also gain supervisory experience by leading teams of volunteers and training work experience students. In addition to this they are asked to give garden tours during garden events and to man the plant stands. All of these experiences gear our apprentices up for a successful career in horticulture whether it be furthering their training at another institution or going straight into a gardening role.

three people smile at the camera, they are holding a sprig of plant and a pair of secateurs
Apprentices are required to complete the following activities in addition to practical work experience:
Attending a suitable horticultural course one day a week

This is usually RHS level two at one of the Capel Manor colleges although it depends on the apprentice’s experience.

Trainee and apprentice work diaries

Apprentices are required to keep a daily work diary during their time at Fulham Palace. The aim of the diary is to have a record of the work carried out demonstrating an understanding of the tasks detailing information that could be used for future garden roles. Diaries are submitted regularly to the head gardener to comment on.

Plant identifications tests

Apprentices are required to attend plant identification tests to learn 20 plants every fortnight. These include plant families, using the APG 3 plant classification system although being aware of the recent family changes.

Apprentice training plans and skills log

The skills log is a list of practical skills that apprentices need to be competent in before their time at Fulham Palace is over. Each quarter each apprentice sits shown with our head gardener to check if there are any gaps in their training so we can ensure that each of our apprentices has the skills we set out to teach throughout their course.

Regular meetings with head gardener

The apprentices have one to one meetings with the head gardener every three months to discuss the progress of the college course, work diaries, plant ident tests, skills log and training plans as well as how they feel the apprenticeship is generally going.

Interview

At interview, as well as a sit down meeting with questions, we run a garden practical where we are looking at how well they carry out simple garden tasks after being given instructions.

Recruitment

Garden apprentices are recruited on a rolling 18 month basis. We will start recruiting for our next apprentices at the end of 2019, so if you are interested in this role keep a look out on our vacancies page.

Alternatively, email admin@fulhampalace.org and we will attempt to contact you when a vacancy comes up.

The Fulham Palace garden team, five team members smile, they are standing in a greenhouse surrounded by plants