First Gardener

Organisation: The National Trust for Scotland

Salary: £26,365 to £29,128

Location: Arduaine Garden


Arduaine needs a capable, motivated, and knowledgeable First Gardener to work closely with the Head Gardener and help lead a small, dedicated team of gardeners and volunteers in an exciting period of redevelopment and restoration for this garden and nationally important plant collection.


Arduaine Garden was established in 1898 by Ethel and James Arthur Campbell and is renowned for its nationally important collection of Rhododendron species, many of which were collected at the beginning of the last century. Arduaine grows a broad range of plants from all around the world including many tender plants which thrive in the garden’s mild climate, influenced by warm Atlantic currents. The garden covers 20 acres, divided into two main areas, a semi formal garden of shrub beds, mixed borders, lawns and ponds and an informal woodland garden.
In 1971 the garden was acquired by nurserymen, Edmund and Harry Wright. The brothers greatly improved the infrastructure of the garden and added to the existing Rhododendron collection before donating the garden to the National Trust for Scotland in 1992.
The garden regularly attracts 15000 visitors a year, though it is temporarily closed to facilitate the completion of the Shelterbelt Restoration project and additional arboricultural work relating to the project.
The Shelterbelt Restoration Project at Arduaine is in its final year and 1000 mature Japanese Larch have been removed after an outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum. The felling stage is expected to be completed by the end of 2022 and site preparation is already underway for the restoration of the garden shelterbelt, after which the garden will be intensively redeveloped and replanted to improve Arduaine’s nationally important collection of Rhododendron’s and diverse botanical collection.


The Key Purposes of the job will be met by:
1. Ensuring the conservation and practical maintenance of the garden and policies – whether through delegation to other staff/volunteers, or personal participation – in terms of:
a. Practical horticulture (e.g. including managing trees and shrubs, herbaceous, pond plants and bulbs; turf care; pest/disease/weed control; composting and soil improvement; hard-landscaping and path care; soft landscaping and planting preparation; glasshouse care and plant propagation);
b. Garden Restoration/ Development (e.g planting and establishing newly introduced trees, shrubs and herbaceous; contributing to planning and design of new plantings and hard landscaping; processing of timber with training to use garden sawmill; use of pesticides to control regen for establishment of new plantings; use of chainsaw to process logs, stumps and brash for replanting.
c. Plantsmanship (e.g. the identification, knowledge and understanding of this high calibre plant collection, including recording [using Iris database], and labelling of individual plants and recognized collections);
d. Interpretation (e.g. through the development and delivery of events such as introductory talks, presentations, guided tours or practical demonstrations and workshops, garden trails, digital media and contribution to guide-books or leaflets) to include the impact of various forms of Phytophthora at the property.
2. Ensuring an appropriate management regime of the garden and policies that includes the management of:
a. Staff, Apprentice and volunteers (e.g. assisting in recruitment, induction, direction, development, performance management) such that they are fully equipped, organised and motivated to undertake their duties to the required Trust standards;
b. health, safety and the environment in line with stated Trust policies and approaches to ensure the health and welfare of staff/volunteers;
c. machinery and equipment (e.g. ensuring timely and appropriate repairs, purchases and servicing) and its use (e.g. training, risk assessments and HAVS logs);
d. recognition of the Trust’s Environmental Policy with respect to sustainable gardening activities, including energy, water, peat & pesticide-use;

e. customer service and care from garden staff/volunteers, and in the broader sense of facilities and “visiting experience”, to ensure that the properties’ reputation for excellence is maintained and enhanced;
f. administration to enable gardening activities to be undertaken and recorded efficiently;

3. Supporting the Head Gardener Operations manager & Visitor services manager strategically and practically with the operation of the property.


People Management
• Is not a Line Manager but will be responsible for day-to-day supervision of gardening staff and volunteers. May also be required to supervise students / apprentices.
• The team at Arduaine Garden consists of Head Gardener, First Gardener, Gardener and Apprentice gardener. You will be responsible for direct supervision of the Gardener, Apprentice Gardener and any seasonal gardeners that may be appointed. You will lead and train the Apprentice Gardener.
 Garden volunteers.
 Contractors.
 Will be supported by Head Gardener.
 Will have regular (daily) interaction with members of the public of all ages and abilities.
 Will have frequent interaction with suppliers and contractors.

Finance Management
 Is not a budget-holder.
 Will regularly use computerized finance system for the raising of purchase orders for the supply of goods and service.


 Will be a frequent user of driven vehicles such as tractors (including trailers and other attachments).
 Will be a frequent user of powered tools such as mowers, chainsaws, mobile sawmill, strimmers, hedge-cutters, etc.
 Will be a frequent user of hand-tools such as spades, forks, trowels, rakes, hoes, shears, and secateurs.
 Will be a frequent user of IT equipment.


The above outlines the key skills the post-holder will need to possess and exercise. In addition, either knowledge of or experience in the following is required:


 An HND/HNC level qualification in amenity horticulture or related subjects (equivalent to NVQ/SVQ level 3), supported by qualifications and experience demonstrating practical horticultural knowledge (eg & Guilds Level 2/SVQ Level 1&2). Or demonstrably significant and high quality directly relevant experience.
 Substantial relevant practical experience in general amenity – and heritage gardening.
 Sound demonstrable plantsmanship, including propagation skills and experience.
 Sound knowledge of basic tool and machinery use and maintenance.
 Skills in arboricultural techniques, as a minimum basic chain-saw certificates (or willingness to train and use).
 Sound practical knowledge of Health and Safety processes and procedures and the ability to work effectively within these processes.
 Driving Licence, valid for driving within the UK.
 Excellent interpersonal and communication skills; confident in interacting and dealing with a wide range of people; and able to represent the Trust
 Competency and self-sufficiency in use of IT (email, internet, word-processing, spreadsheets, databases).
• Eye for detail and finish, quality standard and best practice.
• An understanding and commitment to the aims and objectives of the National Trust for Scotland.
• Living the values of the National Trust for Scotland and encourage colleagues to do the same
o The ability and willingness to understand others’ perspectives and to consider the impact of your actions on them and to adapt your actions as necessary.
o The ability and willingness to learn and try new things, to be flexible and step outside of your comfort zone.
o An open and honest way of communicating, ready to ask others for their ideas and to be open to hear and consider different points of view.
o A pro-active approach to taking initiative and to driving forward ideas and projects designed to improve daily operations and deliver an exceptional visitor experience.

• Supervisory experience.
• Experience of working in a mixed-team that includes volunteers.
• An appreciation of Scottish garden history in a general context;
• Current First Aid certification (or willingness to train and use);
• Tractor driving training and certification – including use of trailers (or willingness to train and use);
• PA1 and PA6a spraying certificates;
• Experience in use of saw mills (or willingness to train and use);

The Key Responsibilities, Scope of Job, and Required Qualifications, Skills, Experience & Knowledge reflect the requirements of the job at the time of issue. The Trust reserves the right to amend these with appropriate consultation and/or request the post-holder to undertake any activities that it believes to be reasonable within the broad scope of the job or his/her general abilities.

Application Deadline: Friday 17/06/2022