Garden manager, head gardener, curator

Overseeing and managing the development of plant collections/areas of planted space, horticulture and estate to support plant conservation, propagation, research, education and the enjoyment of visitors

Training, qualifications and skills A degree in horticulture, botany or related subject; RHS level 2; experience growing fruit and vegetables; PA1 & PA6 sprays; competent with machinery and good management skills
Career progression opportunities Senior management, higher education, consultancy 
Useful links Botanic Garden Conservation International
Countryside Jobs Service (horticulture)
Countryside Jobs Service (greenspace)


Focus on: Head organic fruit and vegetable gardener

Torsi Wooldridge
Private family estate
Full time, salary up to £25k
The Chilterns

To be a head kitchen gardener is hard work but hugely rewarding. I love preparing for events, picking and preparing the produce to go to the main house. A massive amount of work goes into growing organic food, ordering seeds, sowing, potting on, growing to harvest and preparing vegetables to be stored over the winter months, along with the day-to-day management of the garden. You never know what Mother Nature will throw at you; every year is completely different.

Be fit, heathy and motivated. Have ambition, an open mind and know your stuff. Be willing to work with your employer to help them achieve their dreams and goals in the garden. Grow the food they eat, grow the amount of food they require and do something different each year to woo them and their guests.

I obtained my RHS level 2 certificate in horticulture and studied on a basic course in garden design. I’ve worked at garden centres and a herb farm to gain basic skills and to help me decide what direction I wanted to take. Once I realised my heart lies with growing fruit and vegetables, I applied for every relevant job I could find within the radius I was willing to travel each day.

Focus on: Garden manager / curator

Will Ritchie
National Botanic Garden of Wales
Full time, salary up to £45k

My role at the National Botanic Garden, Wales includes management of collections, land and people. It’s a diverse role and requires a broad range of skills and knowledge. My day can therefore be very varied – verifying a plant’s name, working on a grant proposal or planning a new planting scheme all in one morning.


Botanic gardens around the world share common missions and values. We can learn a lot from each other. Look for examples, inspiration and ideas from the global community.

I’m grateful for the transferable skills I learned at university as they’ve helped me with many of the tasks that I’m now responsible for. My passion is still horticulture and plants, but most of my work aims to support others to do the sowing, growing and planting. It's important to me that the horticulture team enjoy work, have the resources they require and the freedom to express themselves creatively. 

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.