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Growing career opportunities

Dan McIntosh’s career as a freelance gardener is virtually set in stone, although that hasn’t stopped the former horticulture student from returning to college to study carpentry.

“Carpentry is a useful career to fall back on. It also links to horticulture as I could end up producing bespoke birdhouses, benches and other garden furniture for clients,” said Dan. “I did make some birdhouses in my level 2 horticulture course so have already had some experience of what this involves.”

Woodwork is one of many aspects of his studies that Dan enjoyed while at Birmingham Botanical Gardens where his courses are delivered.

“The level 2 course I studied last year involved being outdoors a lot. The level 3 course is a bit less practical and more theory-based, so it encourages you to develop your managerial skills,” continued Dan. “I’ve enjoyed it all because you’re still learning new things and you get to complete assignments in lots of different ways.

“I kept a diary for an assignment about plant propagation. This is where you take the root of one plant and merge it with the shoot of another. I had to keep a log of how well I looked after the plant and kept it free from pests and potential diseases.

“I’ve also designed posters, wrote reports and set up a tree survey. On the practical side I was assessed on shrub pruning so there’s a good, all-round mix of things. There are of course some exams as well.”

Dan inherited a passion for gardening from his grandparents, with them both approving of the way he has maintained the fuchsias planted by his grandfather five years ago. The student also grows broad beans and broccoli at his own allotment in Edgbaston in Birmingham.

And having worked in a garden centre, his sales and customer service skills have prepared him to set up his own business.

“People are always posting messages on social media asking for recommendations for someone who can dig up weeds, plants and shrubs or trim hedges,” Dan said. “My studies combined with work experience have given me the confidence to put myself out there as a professional.”


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