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Garden apprenticeship: a great way to grow!

Hattie Moore, garden apprentice

My 18 months at Fulham Palace as a garden apprentice has been a fantastic experience. In two weeks I will start my new role as a Kew Diploma student and continue learning about horticulture and botany alongside Ellie Edmonds, another previous Fulham Palace apprentice. We have a pretty good track record of Fulham Palace garden apprentices moving on to the Kew Diploma, and I am excited to be one of them!

Following a great leaving-do garden party, I’m feeling reflective. I have loved working in the vegetable patch, learning how to grow veg and flowers from seed, and planning the layout of my patch has been an enjoyable personal project.

Planting potatoes in her very own veg patch

My best moment was our successes at last years Fulham Horticultural Society vegetable show, entered alongside my fellow apprentices Ellie and Alfonso. I had not anticipated how highly competitive the show would be, and when I arrived and saw everyone else’s beautifully laid out produce I didn’t think we had much of a chance. When I returned that afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to find my beetroot, Alfonso’s apples and Ellie’s celeriac to have won first prizes! Having worked extremely hard all summer on our vegetable patch, and myself having never grown vegetables before, this was a terrific feeling.

Garden apprentice Alfonso shows off one of the largest cabbages on the planet (probably)

When I started the apprenticeship I knew very little about horticulture, having previously worked mainly as a general maintenance gardener. Through attending college and gaining a RHS level 2 qualification in horticulture I have learned a great deal. Studying alongside working in a garden has proven a great way to learn, and our head gardener Lucy and supervisors Chris Alldred and Chris Richardson have always been generous with their knowledge. Learning propagation has mostly been through demonstrations at college; in the garden we regularly sow seeds, take cuttings, divide plants and even graft apple and plum trees. We have been coppicing hazel and using the branches to make brushwood staking for our herbaceous perennials. We have learned how to prune everything: roses, fruit trees and shrubs. I have been trained in using the pedestrian and ride-on mowers as well as gaining my certificates in strimming, hedge trimming and PA1 and PA6 spraying.

Quicker than using a shovel, and a lot more fun
Hattie demonstrates the correct use of PPE for spraying away pests (organically)

Overall, I have enjoyed being part of a supportive team at Fulham Palace. The people who work in the Palace and all the lovely volunteers make a friendly and supportive community which I will greatly miss. I recommend applying to be an apprentice here if you want to begin a career in horticulture! The Palace is now hiring a new apprentice to replace me – visit our vacancies page to join our team.

A merry time at the 2019 Fulham Palace staff Christmas meal