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From Auditing to Annuals

A chance article in a Sunday newspaper led to a dramatic career change for former SRUC student Mike Jack.

After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh, Mike went into accountancy auditing small and medium sized businesses.

However, at the age of 30, he came across an article featuring the National Trust for Scotland’s School of Heritage Gardening at Threave Gardens in Dumfries and Galloway.

“The rest as they say is history,” he says.

Mike Jack

Mike Jack at NTS Broughton House and Garden

Fast forward nearly 20 years, and he is now working as First Gardener and Instructor with the NTS at Broughton House and Garden in Kirkcudbright, also Dumfries and Galloway.

Having made a decision to change career, Mike applied to study for a National Certificate in Landscape Design and Construction at SRUC’s Oatridge campus.

“It provided a balance of horticulture along with practical landscaping skills, both of which I required to advance my career and both of which I enjoy,” he said. “My year at Oatridge was the springboard to my change in career.”

He graduated in 2001, passing his course with distinction, and was awarded the Keyline Shield for Best Student Overall and TWIL Group Marketing Shield for Best Practical Construction Student.

He then did a one-year traineeship at Threave Gardens, followed by a two-year diploma at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Garden in Surrey, before setting up his own garden maintenance business back in Kirkcudbright and working as head gardener at Argrennan Manor House in Castle Douglas.

In 2015, he took on his current role at Broughton House and Garden as the sole full time gardener, where he is responsible for the management and maintenance of the lawns, herbaceous and shrub borders, fruit and vegetable garden, ponds and glasshouse.

He also provides guided tours of the garden to visitors and mentor students from the NTS School of Heritage Gardening.

His advice to current students following in his footsteps is simple: “Work hard and make the most of every opportunity, but most of all enjoy yourself”.

Find out more about courses in Horticulture, Landscaping and Garden Design at


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