National Trust Opens Up Its Grounds To Train Heritage Gardeners

By Dawn Marshallsay | 11 July 2008
Photo of a woman trimming grass at the edge of a path

Catherine Mobbs, a trainee on the Careership Garden programme, at work in Ickworth.© NTPL

The National Gardens Scheme will open 3,600 gardens to the public on Saturday July 19, to raise money for cancer and caring charities, as well as the National Trust’s garden Careership programme.

A sharp decline in the number of skilled gardeners in Britain is causing a real crisis in horticulture, according to the National Trust. Its three-year Careership programme has been training up new heritage gardeners, aged 16 and over, since 1991.

The National Trust currently employs over 450 skilled gardeners and more than 1,500 garden volunteers. Careership trainees have also gone on to join other horticultural-based organisations, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Eden Project.

a photo of a man tending well ordered garden

Oxburgh Hall gardens. Photo Mike Selby. © NTPL

Catherine Mobbs, who has been taking part in the Careership programme at the Trust's Ickworth House for two years, said: “The two-year Careership programme is a fantastic opportunity to not only learn the practical skills of gardening but also the theory behind it.”

Visiting the gardens is a chance to enjoy horticultural beauty and raise money for their preservation at the same time. Over the last seven years alone the National Garden Scheme has donated around £190,000 a year to the Careership programme.

Among the vast range of gardens opening to raise money for the charities and the Careership programme is the shady Wooded Pleasure Grounds at Ickworth in Surrey. The property's Italienate garden will also be open to visitors.

colour photograph of a large brick building with a tree in the foreground

The Workhouse, in Southwell, is the most intact workhouse in the country. © NTPL

Blickling Hall in Norwich will be in full bloom on the day with its dazzling borders. The beautiful French parterre at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk will also be part of the National Gardens Scheme.

To emphasise the importance of preserving and maintaining National Trust gardens by using, where possible, traditional techniques, the replica 19th century working garden will also be open to visitors at The National Trust’s Workhouse in Southwell.

Here, long-standing methods and principles are used to grow fruit and vegetables. Workhouse itself contains interactive displays on other aspects of 19th century working life.

For information on opening times, the National Gardens Scheme and Careership programme, visit

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