Potting Shed Musings

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By The Head Gardener   -   They say that when it’s pouring with rain, gardeners should decamp to the potting shed or wherever and sharpen the tools … or if it’s cold to go with it, get the fire going and read the gardening books.


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That advice … whilst remaining pretty sensible and sound … is a bit old school.  The modern gardener can also get on a ‘device’ and do a bit of surfing … googling … and that’s where I found myself recently.  The session was prompted by coming across the ‘Professional Gardeners Trust’ … yes I know it does sound British and it is.  The UK’s National Garden Scheme … the ‘sort of’ equivalent to our Open Gardens … gives annual funding to the Professional Gardeners Trust to the tune of around $A18,000.  It must be worth looking at who or what this body is.

“The Professional Gardeners’ Trust helps fund gardeners study for horticultural courses.  It can also help with training in other areas like Social and Therapeutic horticulture, specialist certificates, management skills.”

Very worthwhile I would have thought.  It goes on to say how to apply and that the awards are available for all working gardeners … with no age discrimination!  … that warms the old head gardener’s heart … however, wrong place, wrong time!

Under ‘Donate’ we see that the Trust is funded from horticultural trusts and organisations, private individuals and “subscription contributions from Professional Gardeners Guild members”. Now, as is often the way with this googling caper, the Head Gardener’s interest is further piqued… that’s because the Professional Gardener title seems to be relevant ‘hat’ to wear… a trade qualification and gardening for a job, albeit on a P/T basis!  What’s a Guild? … again, it does sound British doesn’t it!

“The Gardeners Guild is a national trade network for professionally qualified gardeners.  (Our) members are self-employed gardeners who offer garden and grounds maintenance as part of their services”

A bit more delving and it transpires that the web site is primarily a service for those seeking a gardener … put in your postcode etc etc… and of course, a service for the gardener seeking clients.

However, it gets the HG thinking how alone one can be in this professional gardening life. There must be thousands of us out there pruning and potting each with pretty unique relationships with gardens and their owners.  Relationship is definitely the right word.  The HG is reminded of one experience … after helping with the tidy up of a garden that was to host a significant birthday bash … Mr 50 and his consort asked about continuing services … “ the garden needs someone who loves it”  The HG replied that it was still at the flirting stage! Nevertheless, a deal was done and the relationship lasted four years during which it became obvious one of the couple was addicted to change and the dreaded landscaper came through about a half a dozen times.  One of the grounds for the divorce was that, with so many changes, the garden was no longer the person I had “married”.  As with many splits it was slightly acrimonious … “you can’t sack me, I quit” type dialogue! Relationships end and life goes on.

I am sure any Guild wouldn’t and couldn’t have become involved, but we can ask the question whether a “trade network for professionally qualified gardeners” might have some usefulness in the local context…. Not necessarily for the ‘big guys’ … not for those who start the whipper-snipper as they swing out of the driver’s seat of the rig … not for the franchisee cohort who (only) know it’s Wednesday because they are at 281 Smith Street… account number 1234 ... but rather for the perhaps thousands of lone ‘independents’ … those who have forged those relationships with ‘special’ gardens and their owners… those gardeners who, with age and tenure can, if they are not careful, morph into ‘family retainers’! What might they get out of a so called Professional Gardeners Guild?

The Brits have a list of FAQs in their Consumer Advice section … questions such as …

            - Why use a member of The Gardeners Guild?

            - How much do gardeners charge?

            - What services will a gardener offer?

            - What is the difference between a Gardener and a Landscaper?

Also included is the question - What do gardeners do when it rains?  I don’t know about you … well yes I do! … just like me you are going to google and see what they say! I know what they should say … I told you at the beginning!

Some of the other questions they pose are food for further thought. Next time!

Keep your secateurs clean!