Head Gardener – EC4797

From English Country Gardeners

A rare opportunity has arisen for a high-level hands-on Head Gardener to join an historic private estate in Somerset at a very exciting time in its development.  The 22-acre property retains its name from the original 12th century manor house although several significant changes have been observed in this time including the construction of the existing building in 1799.  Parts of the garden were designed by Swiss Landscape Designer Augusto Calonder and retain their open vistas and minimalist character to this day.  This provides somewhat of a blank canvas for the recently commissioned world-renowned Garden Designer, Arne Maynard, to view the space with a modern eye and to realise the full potential of this incredible site on behalf of the passionate and enthusiastic new owners.

Upon completion and implementation of the new design, a full-time Skilled Assistant Gardener will be recruited by the Head Gardener, however at this early stage of development the priority is to source the Head Gardener, such that they be involved with the project from phase one.  The Head Gardener will initially be tasked with managing the existing part-time garden staff with the maintenance of the gardens as they are, in their current form.  In accordance with the complexity of design, variety in horticulture and associated management requirements of the forthcoming garden, candidates for this role must be of the highest calibre to be considered for interview.

Suitable candidates will be academically qualified to at least RHS Level 3 and have extensive experience on horticulturally diverse private estates.  Experience in garden development and working with garden designers would be an advantage.  Candidates must have experience in kitchen gardening, plant propagation and glasshouse work, as well as competence in the operation and basic maintenance of a range of garden machinery. 

Many aspects of the new garden design will consider the social focus of the house and its owners.  Visiting friends and family as well as work gatherings will positively influence the design by way of dedicated and varied entertainment areas for visitors, with an associated consideration for high quality fresh food produce, all of which will be grown on site.  The garden currently comprises expansive areas of lawn, two walled gardens (containing fruit, vegetables and cutting flowers), a glasshouse, finely pruned hornbeam and yew hedging, an orchard, herbaceous beds and borders, ponds and water features with young and mature specimen trees.  A river runs through the property, with waterside planting and mature wooded areas which will become a substantial and picturesque backdrop to the view from the house as well as a valuable natural habitat for wildlife and freshwater ecology.  The estate is surrounded by meadows and pasture, with this aspect of the property likely to significantly increase in acreage in the coming years.

Some garden areas will be extensively and dramatically re-designed which will ensure plenty to stretch and satisfy a very experienced gardener.  The vision will include formal and informal areas throughout the property, with several features of the gardens being subject to change due to the early stage of the project though will include features and areas as follows: herbaceous beds/borders, roses, shrub areas, wall-trained fruit trees, topiary and shaped hedges, courtyard gardens with planting in chippings and pots, knot/parterre gardens, terraces, a sunken croquet lawn, a formal summer house, pollarded and natural ornamental tree walks/avenues, cloud-pruned hedges and shrubs, a French or Italian courtyard with areas dedicated to scent and colour and a wonderful garden area of loose shrubs and masses of snowdrops, collections of rare ferns and spring bulbs; akin in overall feel to a Victorian fernery.  An existing walled garden will continue to be a very important area to the owners.  The main walled garden is already well established but will undergo alteration as part of the new initiative and will become a centre point for entertaining. 

The wider estate gardens will see woodland development and extensive planting of young trees.  Spring bulbs and ephemerals, orchards, wildflower areas, river-edge planting as well as pond and wetland planting will be included in the new plan.  Some existing trees will be transplanted rather than removed which will necessitate the assistance of specialist contractors in some instances.  Various new garden structures are proposed with several areas of hard landscaping aimed at creating garden spaces for entertaining and new areas to be explored and enjoyed.  A wonderful channelled river with a weir presents an incredible feature as viewed from the house, the development of which involving the addition of planting on the stream and woodland edge may see a ‘grotto’ or folly/seat with planting of rare and interesting plant species.  A remarkable well can also be found on site and will be restored and altered to enable its new and exciting function as a dipping pool.

The new design will include extensive planting of trees and creation of natural habitats throughout the property, with new ‘playgrounds’ established within the woodland for children and adults alike to explore.  Although no livestock is present on the estate currently, the development of Oakland pasture would enable sheep to graze on grass along the stately driveway towards the main house, with traditional parkland tree planting maintaining the historic feel of the estate upon entry.

This extensive, unique and dramatic project exemplifies the energy and passion that the new owners have for their garden, as well as that which Arne Maynard and his team have for the estate.  This role provides a fantastic opportunity for a qualified, imaginative and physically fit horticulturist to join the estate in the very early stages of its historic development, as well as an opportunity for the successful candidate to grow alongside this stunning and unique garden.

SALARY:       Circa £45,000 – £50,000 DOE
LOCATION:  Somerset
JOB No:          EC4797

If this Head Gardener vacancy is of interest, please apply or contact Mark Read on 01233 733510 or info@englishcountrygardeners.co.uk.

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Thank you for the interest you have shown in this Head Gardener vacancy.  Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications that we receive, it is not possible to respond to every one.  Therefore, unless you hear from us within the next 14 days, your application for this Head Gardener vacancy will have been unsuccessful.