Aimee Spanswick at The Royal Parks

Aimee Spanswick

Aimee Spanswick

Horticultural Apprentice Aimee Spanswick

I’ve always had an interest in horticulture. My parents cultivated a love of the land and encouraged me from a young age to grow simple vegetables and flowers. In my mid-twenties my passion intensified, and I became particularly concerned about the vegetables I was buying. I was lucky enough to acquire an allotment when I lived in Northampton where I learnt about the importance of soil health and prevention of pests and diseases.

I wanted to get into the industry, but I didn’t know how. Before hearing about the Royal Parks Apprenticeship Scheme, I couldn’t see a way into horticulture for an unqualified gardener in London as most vacancies required at least two years’ experience. This scheme offers me a regular income and a hands-on approach to study, getting me to the level required to pursue a career relatively quickly.

There are lots of opportunities to expand your skills. There are opportunities to attend workshops at other Royal Parks and get involved with creative garden design. In the second year of your apprenticeship you study propagation at the Hyde Park nursery which grows 450,000 plants for all eight Royal parks!

Recently, one of my colleagues suggested that I plant a bedding design for winter at the waterside. With support and guidance, I arranged and planted a good-sized bed within two days. I had to be mindful of composition, symmetry and colour for the design to be effective and I think it turned out very well in the end. The process was really enjoyable, it has been one of my favourite projects so far.

Be prepared to study for at least six hours a week. You will be expected to conduct learning in your own time. This includes learning ten plant names in Latin every fortnight It sounds scary and I was intimidated at first, but you will be surprised how quickly you will learn and remember the names.

Before you apply consider which Royal Park you want to work in. If you are not set on a particular park, then visit all eight to see which is the right fit for you. Consider your interests, the park’s location, the commute and weigh up the pros and cons.

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