This week is National Apprenticeship Week and we’re shining a light on the brilliant work of our Garden Apprentice, Caroline Jones, who joined the team in September last year.
Caroline’s apprenticeship is designed to help kickstart her career in horticulture and she has quickly become a key member of the team working on the gardens at Englefield House.
“The first few months of my apprenticeship have been amazing – it doesn’t feel like I’m coming in to work each day,” she said. “Head Gardener Sue and the whole team are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable, they’re always happy to help me out and so passionate about what they do.”
The apprenticeship is being run in partnership with Sparsholt College. Each week Caroline has online courses to go through the theory that accompanies the practical work she carries out at the Estate.
“I’ve learnt a lot during my first few months - learning all the different plant names has been like learning a whole new language! I’ve been lucky enough to work on lots of different parts of the garden, from helping to redesign the stream, to introducing new planting schemes for some of our beds – every day I’m doing something new.”
National Apprenticeship Week aims to highlight the work being done by employers and apprentices across the country, demonstrating how life changing these experiences can be. “Growing up I never really considered becoming a gardener,” Caroline added, “but I’ve always loved working outside ever since my parents let me have my own veg patch when I was little! After being uninspired from working in retail, I asked myself ‘What do I actually enjoy?’ and then I applied for this apprenticeship and haven’t looked back.”
“This experience has already confirmed that I want to pursue a career in horticulture. I couldn’t get this experience anywhere else and I’m definitely becoming a lot more confident as a result of it.”
With the snowdrops and daffodils already starting to sprout here at the Estate, Spring is clearly just around the corner. Here are some of Caroline’s top tips to help you prepare your own garden for Spring:
- Prepare your beds ready for sowing vegetable seed. You can cover your beds with cloches or polythene to keep the worst of the weather off and help warm up the soil.
- Create a compost area to store all your organic waste. Once it has broken down, you'll get a rich compost your plants will love.
- Prune your winter shrubs that have finished flowering - this will encourage strong healthy shoots and improve flowering in the future.
- Remember to feed your garden birds - they will struggle to find food and water during severe weather conditions.
- This is the perfect time for a spring clean - go through your garden tools and give them a good clean and oiling!