Last summer I wrote on my ‘About’ page, ‘I cannot say exactly where this horticulture course will lead me just yet, but I am certain at the very least I am heading in the right direction. Though it might not be a clear path to a precise vocation, I do have ideas and plans I wish to explore. I will forage around and see what I discover. I hope to have reached my horticultural destination by the end of my ramble’.
I would never have fathomed a year ago I would be writing a blog post in a little village in south Oxfordshire.
In September 2011 I put my best steel toe-cap boot forward in the general direction of horticulture having given up my job to study the BTEC National Diploma in Horticulture
full-time at Merrist Wood College. The academic year flew past and I found myself exiting the college gates for the last time on 4th July. My student days were over and it was time to enter the big wide gardeners’ world. It was my independence day.
Some time has passed since I last blogged. Regrettably, this task slipped down the priority list during early summer as I snatched every last opportunity to study or gain further work experience . The workload in those last months at college was relentless and was coupled with the knowledge I needed to start earning in my new profession. This meant application forms, covering letters, CV updating and job interviews. Each weekend and every college holiday was dedicated to processing knowledge, drafting coursework and building up my practical gardening know-how. Each week brought with it a mounting pile of deadlines across all subject areas: plant machinery, turf management, propagation, garden design, garden structures, science, management and establishment of plants. Each time we completed one assessment; two more took its place.
Before you pull out your tiny violins, I realise I probably should have expected this. Except that I didn’t. Fortunately, there were others on the course who had committed themselves to a new start at the expense of another career. It was rare for us to all lose the plot all at the same time so there was usually somebody on the end of the phone, text, email when you realised that the articles you were researching on the use of genetic manipulation in plant breeding were more than a little perplexing. Then before we knew it, the course was over.
What better way to celebrate going straight from work to studying at college and sacrificing weekends and holidays, than a lovely long holiday? My thoughts exactly. It turns out though, when somebody offers you a job in a gardens you’ve seen on the telly that made you think ‘wouldn’t it be great to work there’, you finish college, pack the car and move to Oxfordshire in the same week. Well, they do say a change is as good as a holiday. I now find myself seven weeks into the three month gardens intern role at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. I never thought I would hear myself say that at the beginning of my garden ramble.