Two new heritage gardening courses have been announced by the National Trust this week, representing the charity’s most significant development in horticultural training for 20 years.
Co-funded by the National Gardens Scheme, the new courses will offer budding gardeners the opportunity to study for qualifications in heritage gardening and replace the Trust’s Careership training scheme launched in 1991 .
For those new to heritage gardening, the one year Foundation Certificate will develop the essential practical skills needed to look after and nurture heritage gardens, and is aligned with the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Level 2 in Horticulture.
The two year Diploma in Heritage Gardening is unique to the Trust and offers what is arguably the most comprehensive grounding in heritage gardening available for those with some prior experience and relevant qualifications. It builds on the Foundation level training, providing trainees with an in-depth and working knowledge of heritage gardens.
Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens at the National Trust said: “Our new gardening courses are a great step forward and have been designed to develop the modern skills needed to sustainably manage major heritage gardens into the future. We believe they are a significant development for the sector and fill the training gap between existing botanic horticulture and amenity gardening diplomas.
“We can now offer two entry points and great opportunities for people wishing to develop a long and rewarding career in heritage gardening and a spring board for those aspiring to become our Head Gardeners of the future.”
Developed in conjunction with Reaseheath College in Cheshire , the courses are largely practical, with trainees based at major National Trust gardens. To supplement this practical learning, trainees also spend 10 weeks a year at Reaseheath developing their horticultural knowledge.
In addition to traditional and modern techniques used in major gardens, trainees on the Diploma course will cover plant conservation, GPS surveys and plant databases; garden history, period planting styles, restoration, and interpretation and visitor engagement techniques.
Trainees on both courses will be able to work alongside the National Trust’s most experienced Head Gardeners in some of the most famous gardens in the country such as Sissinghurst, Hidcote and Stourhead. They will also learn about garden conservation from the National Trust’s gardening experts and will have opportunities to develop additional skills and knowledge with placements at other Trust gardens.
The new courses start in September 2012 and there are 10 places available on each. Applicants can find out more information at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardencareers and apply from 27 April 2012.
 Launched in 1991, the National Trust’s successful Careership programme has trained over 200 new gardeners over the past 11 years. The Careership programme will finish in August 2012.
 Reaseheath College is a specialist land based college set in the heart of Cheshire near Nantwich. The College has a wide range of world class facilities including a large Agricultural estate and 21 acres of high quality grounds. The Horticulture department has a plant nursery and commercial glasshouse resources and a demonstration fruit and vegetable garden, a design studio using the latest high class IT technology and a commercial 9 hole golf course. The college prides itself in delivering outstanding education to a wide range of customers and has extensive industrial and community links within the Horticultural industry. We are extremely proud to be in partnership with the National Trust and delivering both of these qualifications, and to progress the opportunities available to all those who want to progress in Heritage Gardening.