The nursery at Great Dixter by Carol CasseldenThe nursery trainee usually spends 12 month in the nursery at Great Dixter learning from the team of experienced and knowledgeable staff who work there. The nursery operates in a traditional way, using skills and techniques that are no longer seen in larger or more commercial operations. These include making loam based compost using soil extracted and sterilised from our turf heap to a John Innes recipe, and collecting seed and other propagation material from the garden. The nursery is low-tech with little heated propagation space available, so bringing on and managing seedlings in cold frames is also key. The plants produced in this way have strong root stocks and suffer less from transplant shock when they are finally planted out into a garden.One of the nursery greenhouses
The nursery trainee is paid minimum wage and is eligible for subsidised accommodation onsite. We only accept applicants from the UK.

The aim of the traineeship is to ensure that these old fashioned but effective methods are passed on to the next generation of nursery workers. The training will essentially be a practical one although anyone joining without a Level 2 in horticulture will receive time off and funding to gain an RHS qualification during their time with us.

Our current trainee, Ellie Machell (pictured below) started at Great Dixter in May 2021.

Ellie Machell, Great Dixter Nursery trainee 2021-22

Originally from Liverpool, Ellie studied Fine Art in Leeds and worked in museums and galleries before embarking on a career in teaching and outdoor education. Taking the decision to retrain for a career in horticulture, Ellie began by volunteering at Chelsea Physic Garden before training at RBG Kew for two years. “It was an early placement in the Arboretum Nursery at Kew where I first began considering a career in nursery work and propagation. The traineeship at Great Dixter attracted me because of the holistic approach to working with plants’ natural abilities, and combination of art and craft with the science of plant propagation. I'm interested in traditional methods, and using the environment to an advantage in the growing stages and aftercare of plants, whilst having the least negative impact on the environment.

Shaun Blower Nursery worker working in the Nursery at Great Dixter

Our previous trainee Shaun Blower, (pictured above) has continued on at Dixter as a nursery worker and is now involved in training others.

Ellie Pay was our first nursery trainee at Great Dixter and now runs a wonderful Instagram feed from her work with Sue and Bleddyn Wyn Jones nursery Crug Farm Plants in Wales. You can follow her adventures here @elliekatepay

Along with our deputy head of the nursery Sophie Cook, Ellie has also been instrumental in setting up a Zine called the Young Propagators Society. You can follow it on Facebook and Instagram and download a copy.

For more information on the Nursery Traineeship please contact [email protected] or phone 01797 254048