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What it’s like to work as a gardener at a castle

Rose Philpot, 21, is a gardener at Arundel Castle. She shares her love for the job and how she became a professional gardener.

I have worked at Arundel Castle full time for just over a year. It started as one week’s work experience followed by volunteering for the summer.

Then I did two years of work experience for my college course and at the same time paid weekend and summer work. After finishing college I was offered a full-time position.

My love for gardening

I began gardening at a very young age with my grandfather who was passionate about homegrown organic produce. He showed me how to germinate seeds, bring on plants in a greenhouse and how to plant out on an allotment. In addition to vegetables and soft fruits, I was interested in growing flowers, so we also tried tulips, daffodils, sunflowers and dahlias.

Studying to be a gardener

When I was asked to choose work experience in sixth form, a gardener at Arundel Castle came up as an option, and I jumped at the chance to go to such an amazing place for the week.

After the week, I realised that this could be the career for me. I began regularly volunteering and decided to go to Plumpton College to do the Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Horticulture which I completed in May 2019.

What I love about the job

I love working outside, doing a variety of jobs throughout the seasons, and seeing the gardens evolve. I am extremely lucky to work with a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic team.

In the past I’ve had people question my career choice – there seems to be an idea that gardening is only for those who do not do well in education but this could not be further from the truth. There is so much to learn all the time. Also because I am small and female there is the misconception that I am not strong enough. I have worked hard to prove people wrong.

If you want to work as a gardener

My advice would be:

  • Don’t be put off by other people – if it is what you want to do then go for it
  • Get a qualification
  • Work hard
  • Always be open to learning more
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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