A Penzance woman who swapped the office for the outdoors has landed a dream role at the world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden on the Isles of Scilly.
Emma Leaper, 26 from Penzance, fell in love with horticulture after discovering working in an office wasn’t for her and is now volunteering for six months at the garden that boasts beautiful sub-tropical plants.
“I can’t imagine doing anything different or spending the rest of my life indoors,” she said.
“I can’t wait to learn more about the industry, work as part of a gardening team and keep learning.”
The majority of secondary schools in Cornwall do not offer horticulture within their curriculum, so people moving into the industry tend to be those changing careers or those who have discovered it themselves.
Emma was part of last year’s record-breaking number of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) students at Duchy College Rosewarne. This year’s cohort is also strong, with the College on track to welcome its 1000th RHS student next year.
“Studying for my Level 2 RHS qualification at Rosewarne exposed a whole new world to me and gave me the confidence to join it,” Emma continued.
“Everyone on campus was united by a shared passion for the natural world, it was a wonderful atmosphere. After the course, I began volunteering one day a week at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and now I’m excited to start at Tresco full-time, what a great experience this will be!”
Duchy College Rosewarne is the only centre in Cornwall that offers the highly respected RHS courses, alongside their full-time horticulture courses, which were first run at the specialist site over 20 years ago.
Sarah Anthony, Team Lead for Horticulture at Rosewarne, said Emma’s grasp of the horticulture industry has been “amazing”.
“She achieved the highest grade in all of her eight exams for the Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture and we’re really proud of her,” she explained.
“We are so lucky here at Rosewarne that each member of our team have their area of expertise and are so passionate that it really rubs off. To be working at such a prestigious garden will be an amazing experience for Emma, she will gain priceless knowledge from the extensive plant library and the expert gardeners.”
Rosewarne’s 100 acre campus, near Camborne, is ideally suited for RHS course criteria, with thousands of species of plants, a laboratory, glasshouses, ornamental, mature and themed gardens, perfect for the range of learners.
Throughout the UK there is a skill shortage in the horticulture industry that contributes £9 billion to the UK economy and employs around 300,000 people across a variety of disciplines.
“It’s such a shame that the public doesn’t know more about the industry, most likely because little is known about the breadth of careers and the subject as a whole,” Sarah said.
“We find that the more mature student, who has done their research, can see the benefits horticulture can bring to a person, community, business or our planet and thrives on the courses, they don’t look back!”
Emma is excited about what her future now holds.
“I can’t wait to learn even more about horticulture and as long as I have my gloves on in the winter, all will be good,” she said.
For more information on the range of horticulture courses, full-time or part-time, available at Duchy College Rosewarne visit www.duchy.ac.uk or call 0845 60 50 455.