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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Nigel Payne, a Horticultural and Landscape Professional.

Horticulture – Pass it on Blog

I was 17 and desperate for a job. At the time my older brother worked for the local council in the parks department and suggested that I apply for a job there. The council? No thank you, I have more ambition than that? However, in reality, I had no choice.  I submitted my job application and waited to hear back from them. Within two weeks, I started work as a nurseryman working in the council glasshouses, helping to grow plants for the parks and gardens throughout the borough. 

Within a number of days my line manager asked a question that would change and steer my career to this day: “Would you like to go to college and get some qualifications?” I was 17 of course not! I had only left school the previous year and didn’t fancy going back into a classroom. He continued “It would mean you would be at college every Thursday instead of coming to work”. Every Thursday off work? “Yes absolutely” I replied. The following September I embarked on my City & Guilds Amenity Horticulture course at Oaklands College in St Albans.

The Councils glasshouses

At the end of the academic year I passed the course with flying colours but more importantly I had loved every minute of it. Horticulture almost seemed to come naturally to me. Hey, I could make a career of this I thought? At the time no one in the council had ever chosen to progress further than the first year of college but with the council’s agreement I pushed on and three years later I had passed all the exams. With some further management qualifications, I went on to work for some of the country’s largest horticultural maintenance businesses.
Horticulture has given me the opportunity to develop a career that has brought enjoyment and reward as well as professional and personal growth. It is an industry that can offer many successes to those that join its ranks, with its diverse and long term opportunities and the obvious health and wellbeing benefits.
But for myself, my biggest joy has been that it has allowed me to pass on my skills, knowledge and life experience to others who have then gone on to achieve and succeed. Developing the teams and the people around me has been my biggest horticultural success and ensures that the next generation are well equipped to be the future of our industry. It doesn’t matter if you garden for leisure or professionally, do something worthwhile and ‘PASS IT ON’.

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