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My time as the Garden Museum’s Horticultural Trainee

By Thomas Rutter, Horticultural Trainee

Thomas Rutter, photo by Matt Collins

I am soon to be coming to the end of my Horticultural Traineeship at the Garden Museum, working under the expert tutelage of the Museum’s Head Gardener Matt Collins for the past year-and-a-bit. We have, I think, achieved much in the last year, over a period of time that has been unsettling for all. Gardening alone in a closed Museum for a period of weeks was a rather strange but special time I won’t soon forget.

On top of our regular maintenance jobs, tasks and projects have varied from week to week, and season to season. Recently, in the last few weeks of 2021, we finished off our bulb planting – and have now lost count of the number of pots planted with different bulbs (be sure to visit our Sackler Courtyard in Springtime). We have also spent time refining and tweaking the dry beds in the Museum front gardens (see Matt’s previous article here), filling the space with plants suited to sun, wind and the free draining soil.

Wildflower meadow in Old Paradise Gardens

Importantly, our gardening work is not limited to the Museum gardens. In the park next door to the Museum, St Mary’s Gardens, we have been busy this last week cutting back and mulching cut flower beds, with help, of course, from our wonderful volunteers. In addition, a short hop from the Museum in Old Paradise Gardens, we cultivated a wildflower meadow last year, and  very recently we finished our bulb planting with the wonderful local charity, Roots and Shoots, and their fantastic students.

Gardening in Old Paradise Gardens with Roots and Shoots

The traineeship has also provided me with the opportunity to visit other gardens and work with gardeners across the country. From Aberglasney to Iford Manor, Wolves Lane Flower Farm to Inner Temple Gardens, Hampton Court to Lowther Castle and back again. In addition, I have been able to visit and garden at Benton End on several occasions, the former house and garden of artist-gardener Sir Cedric Morris (1889 – 1982), now being restored and revived by the Garden Museum and the Pinchbeck Charitable Trust. Finally, my travels have not been limited to the UK, and in November last year I spent time gardening in Tuscany, a particular highlight for me (see previous newsletter article here). Looking back on my traineeship year-in-review, I feel very thankful and quite spoilt.

Fritillaria imperialis, or crown imperials, at Benton End

Exciting things await for the next Trainee. A new year with exciting exhibitions, events, community projects in Old Paradise Gardens continuing (the park recently being awarded ‘Green Flag’ status), and much more. Thank you to everyone who has made this such a special time for me.

Apply to become our next Horticultural Trainee by 7 February: Horticultural Traineeship 2022

All photos by Thomas Rutter. Follow Thomas on Instagram: @thom_rutter

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