Zen and the Art of Gardening
A one-year Horticulture course at Scotland’s Rural College helped clarify Jennifer Wright’s career path – and her love of studying.
Jennifer, 24, from Fife, initially chose to study Horticulture at SRUC Oatridge because she wanted to work outdoors – and the campus was close to her home.
“I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my career but I knew I wanted to be outside and work with plants,” she said. “I found growing up that being indoors for too long would make me feel very claustrophobic.
“I fell in love with Horticulture during my National Certificate course and I knew this would be a life-long career.”
As part of her studies, she volunteered with the National Trust for Scotland – working on their plant records system – which led to her being offered a modern apprenticeship at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
She continued to attend SRUC on day release where she studied for an SVQ Level 3 qualification in Parks, Gardens and Greenspace, and in May 2017, she competed in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, coming fourth in the Scottish regional final.
At the end of the two years, she was accepted onto a Professional Gardeners Guild traineeship.
“This is a three-year scheme where trainees are sent to a garden for a year to learn from professionals in the field and gain practical hands-on experience,” she said. “I have been given placements at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, The Garden House in Devon and am now at Savill and Valley Gardens in Windsor, working as a trainee gardener.”
At the same time, she is studying with the Horticultural Correspondence College for a certificate in Japanese Garden Design.
“In the future, I would love to visit Japan on a plant-hunting trip and an exploration of traditional Japanese Gardens,” she said. “I have always loved Japanese culture and now I am studying Japanese Garden Design, I want to see how the theory is put into practice.
“I would also love to work for a year abroad in a botanical garden in a tropical region such as Guadeloupe or Hawaii.
“After finishing my traineeship I hope to continue studying and eventually complete an MSc in Ethnobotany. My long-term goal is to become a curator of a botanical garden. I absolutely love botanical gardens and it would feel like coming home.”
The highlights of her career so far have been receiving the Carter-Patterson Memorial Award from the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society and being named Runner Up in Horticulture at the Scottish Lantra Learner of the Year Awards – both in 2018.
She attributes her success to what she learned on her course at Oatridge.
“I learnt so much,” she said. “It gave me a fantastic grounding which has been instrumental to understanding horticulture and its importance within land-based industries.”