Scott had four years' experience in a variety of horticultural jobs before he started his current role as display horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Gardens
My horticulture experience was varied up until I started my current role. I worked as a gardener, a research assistant in plant-insect interactions, a botanical garden volunteer, a nurseryman and a garden centre salesperson, as well as several internships, mainly in plant nurseries. I considered a variety of careers before deciding on horticulture, but I fell in love with plants, especially growing them and using them to create inspiring displays, and so horticulture it was.
Kew is an amazing place and gives me an opportunity to work with an outstanding (tropical) plant collection. It's a world heritage site that's steeped in history and world famous for its work. These are the things that made me decide I wanted to work for Kew RBG.
The application process was quite intensive. First I had to write an application to Kew's Human Resources department. I was then selected to attend an interview and during this I had a walkabout with my future manager, discussing the day-to-day work and potential future developments. During the walkabout, I was assessed on my plant knowledge and management potential through discussing case study scenarios. I then also had interviews with the section head and other managers. Some of the questions they asked were about how to deal with difficult people, how to improve plant collections, and how to treat specific pests and diseases.
Duties I perform most regularly are maintaining and improving plant displays, organising work for students/trainees, monitoring and treating plant pests and diseases and interacting with the public. I also get to use specialist equipment such as a cherry picker, chemical sprayers, long-handled pruning equipment, a pH meter, and a conductivity meter.
My role has developed since I started as I now have more responsibilities than initially set out in my job description. For example, I monitor the development of trainees and students, as well as covering for staff in the School of Horticulture.
My main ambition is to build and run my own botanical garden from scratch in a region of the world where there aren't many (mostly developing countries). Career progression at Kew is slightly limited as all higher positions are filled and vacancies are few and far between
For people considering entering the horticulture industry it's important to know that it doesn't pay very well, but it's rewarding to see your work appreciated by others. Not only is it important to love horticulture, but it's also necessary to understand how important plants are to the well-being of everything on earth and to understand how plants grow and develop.
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