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.

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.

An image of Eliza Lass, Nursery Trainee 2021 at Great DixterOur current trainee, Eliza Lass (tender annual with large headed flower late summer to early autumn brunette foliage with clump forming habit. Dislikes cold. 1.6m) started at Great Dixter in September 2020. Eliza has a particular interest in the social potential of propagation as a sustainable way of creating new plants at no or little cost from pre-existing material. She is especially excited to develop her propagation knowledge in order to share it with others, and believes that the giving and receiving of accessible information about plants and propagation helps to open up a world of horticultural knowledge that can often feel closely- guarded or intimidating to those with little growing experience. Eliza was attracted to Dixter by its community feel and by the prospect of learning from the nursery’s intimate and specialist team.

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 Catherine Haydock [email protected] or phone 01797 254048