Young Trailblazers Champion Careers in Horticulture

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Young people go on film to share highlights while secondary schoolteachers struggle to promote horticultural careers to pupils

The RHS has created a series of short films with young trailblazers in horticulture sharing what they love about their jobs and explaining why their careers matter. The films were made in response to a survey* revealing that of secondary schoolteachers who discuss careers with their pupils, just 16% highlight horticultural roles.

The videos can be viewed here at the RHS Youtube channel: We’d like as many young people as possible to see these so please share them on your website / blog / newsletter / social media channel. Instructions on how to imbed the videos can be found below.

The survey of 500 secondary schoolteachers also found that 80% of teachers are unaware of career development opportunities in horticulture. In the ‘Young Voices in Horticulture’ films, horticulturists raise awareness of the possibilities in the industry and share how they are entrepreneurial, innovative and creative in their jobs.

The films, which will feature on social media and career websites and will be shared with schools and colleges, form part of an industry-wide campaign, Horticulture Matters, to raise the profile of careers in horticulture and help bridge a critical skills gap. Key to the campaign is attracting young people into the sector.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says: “As an industry we must take responsibility for the lack of understanding, and appreciation, of horticultural careers and take action to change perceptions. Nearly 85% of secondary schoolteachers haven’t had information about jobs in horticulture in the last three years, demonstrating the urgent need to better communicate the expanse of rewarding opportunities with as wide an audience as possible.

“Many young people think** horticulture should only be considered if you’re failing academically, but these ‘Young Voices in Horticulture’ films illustrate that you can be successful in horticulture and have a fulfilling career with immense job satisfaction. Many of them talk about how they make a positive difference to important topics like food security, biodiversity and health. Best of all, though, is their passion for their careers – it’s infectious.”

Paul Kettell, Schools Development Officer for the RHS says: “We’ve shown the videos to a few groups of teachers, career advisors and secondary school pupils from year’s eight (12-13) and ten (14-15) to test them out. Many of the young people thought working in horticulture was ‘boring’ and meant ‘digging in the rain’ or ‘community service’ but had their minds changed by the videos. They were really engaged by seeing young people they could relate to talking passionately about their careers and commented on how happy they all seemed and how creative, artistic and interesting their jobs sounded. The teachers thought the videos were an excellent resource and were a great way for both they and their pupils to learn about what careers in horticulture really entailed.”


Notes to editors

For more information or to feature films on your website, please contact Stephanie Shepherd in the RHS Press Office on 0207 821 3042 or email or Hayley Monckton on 020 7821 3045 or email

Visit to find out more about careers in horticulture.

Notes to Editors:  


Horticulture’ films – contributors

Tony Woods age 27, garden designer
Tony is a professional horticulturist, garden designer and founder of Garden Club London, his own garden design and build company. In 2013 he designed his first show garden for the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park , for which he won ‘RHS Young Designer of the Year 2013’ and a Gold medal. In his film Tony says that horticulture was not seen as ‘cool’ in school and remembers a teacher telling him that if he didn’t concentrate he’d end up a binman or a gardener. He responded that he’d love to be a gardener.

Leif Bersweden‏ age 19, author, orchid hunter and photographer
Leif packed in six years’ worth of botanical experience alongside his GCSEs and A Levels and is due to go to Oxford University this autumn to study Botanical Sciences. An RHS bursary recipient, he has spent the summer of his gap year finding and photographing all 52 species of wild orchid that grow in Britain and Ireland. Leif believes botany is a really vital career and says we need young people to keep conserving the plants we have in Britain, so we can keep the insect population high and therefore pollinate our crops.

Florian Degroise age 23, garden designer
Florian is a garden designer and was one of the RHS Young Designer of the Year 2013 finalists at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. Florian was a student at the London College of Garden Design and also studied at the Lycée de l'Horticulture et du Paysage de Montreuil. He says his passion for horticulture comes from his grandmother and that it is not a career for people who fail at school.

Anna Platoni age 23, diagnostic entomologist
Anna joined the RHS after four years of studying at Imperial College London. She also volunteers as a guide at the Natural History Museum’s butterfly house. In her film Anna says that horticulture wasn’t mentioned at her school and she only discovered the breadth of interesting careers available within it when she was at university and being taught by scientists with experience in the field.

John Foley age 26, nurseryman
John Foley won the title of BBC Young Gardener of the Year 2012 on BBC Three. He owns his own nursery with his girlfriend and manages a staff of 36. With his entrepreneurial style it has expanded at a rapid rate and he has recently had a restaurant installed. John is regularly invited to host and speak at events all over the country, designed a stand at the 2013 RHS Flower Show Tatton Park and has his sights set on a Gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Hannah Jones age 23, florist
Hannah has worked as a graphic designer and owned her own business but it wasn’t until she stumbled over a floristry course at The Manchester College that she found her perfect career. She joined award-winning Manchester florist Verdure as a level 2 floristry apprentice a couple of years ago and recently came second in the regional finals of the WorldSkills UK floristry competition.

Elliot Smith age 24, company director
Elliot started at Greenbelt Landscapes as a trainee after leaving school and worked his way up to company director. He has just finished managing the build of a Gold-medal winning garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, which he counts as one of his career highlights.

Kateryna Vasyliushchenko-Vainus age 26, landscape architect
Kateryna is combining a degree in Landscape Architecture with jobs as a gardener at Harrogate Borough Council and at a nursery. She is part of design collective Seven Peas in a Pod which designed and created The Mypod Garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

Craig Burgess age 20 and Joe Tunacliffe age 17, horticulture students
Craig and Joe are two of the keenest young horticulture students at Reaseheath College. Both achieved distinction in their level 2 diplomas and are progressing onto level 3 in September.

Kerry Davies (known as Frank), age 26, project manager
Over the last few years Kerry has worked his way up to Project Manager at garden design firm Actual Landscapes. Kerry has combined his job with studying for his NVQ in horticulture and last year was awarded ‘learner of the year’ after finishing his level 2 in record time.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262