Trainee gardeners work at Hever Castle as part of WRAGS initiative

November 18 2020 | Garden

Hever Castle welcomes trainee gardeners each year as part of the WRAGS (work and retrain as a gardener) initiative.

For over 20 years Hever Castle has been working with those wanting to pursue a career in horticulture, offering them 14 hours a week for a year as part of WRAGS, under the tutorage of Head Gardener Neil Miller.

One or two WRAGS gardeners each year learn all aspects of horticulture including mowing, lawn maintenance and roses and are paid the National Living Wage during their training.

Neil said: “There’s not many training schemes out there and the WRAGS one is a high calibre one. It’s so hard to get people into horticultural and any training scheme to get people interested in the industry is amazing.”

Graduates of the nationwide WRAGS initiative go on to enter a wide range of horticultural careers including running their own green fingered businesses, working in nurseries, working as head gardeners or roles at the charity Working for Gardeners Association (WFGA)

Several WRAGS trainees have gone on to become members of the Hever Castle gardening team.

The WFGA charity started in 1899 following concern from women about the lack of employment and education opportunities for female land workers.

The Association started training courses and examinations. At the start of the First World War it spawned the creation of the first Women’s Land Army.

The year 1993 saw the Association establish the Women Returners to Amenity Gardening Scheme. It aimed to offer practical training for those returners thinking about a career in gardening at private and public gardens across the UK.

The WRAGS initiative is now highly respected in the horticultural industry and is one of the leading training schemes for the sector. In 2014 the name was changed to Work and Retrain as a Gardener Scheme.

Anyone interested in finding our more about becoming a trainee gardener at Hever Castle should apply via the WFGA website.

Trainees are taken on throughout the year for WRAGS.

Hever Castle also runs training days for other WRAGS students across the country as well as RHS practical and theory courses for aspiring gardeners.