The best office in the world

Student gardener Richard Marriott reflects on life at Bodnant, where he is studying with the Heritage Horticulture Skills Scheme.

“Either work hard or you might as well quit.” So said MC Hammer in his 1990 smash hit “U Can’t Touch This.” Somewhat rather curiously this phrase became my mantra for the two years spent at college whilst studying towards my horticultural degree.

Finally it would appear that hard work and determination to succeed is beginning to pay dividends as I write this three months into my traineeship here at Bodnant Garden.

I would have dialed 999 and expected you to be taken away in a strait-jacket had anyone even dared suggest I may be employed within such a fantastic garden within the first three years of beginning my horticultural career. But it truly does seem to be so – if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

To date I have helped in the completion of the new Winter Garden, worked upon the world renowned Laburnum Arch and I have passed my tractor driving course, a skill which is used on a daily basis. These past weeks I have also laid foundations for a new Champion Trees of Bodnant leaflet which the public will be able to use as they wander around the gardens.

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At work on The Range

Each area of Bodnant has its own distinct personality, from the expansive views commanded by the Terraces, the diverse range of species on display within the Shrub Borders to the other worldly feeling created by the mammoth sized trees of the Dell. Individually these areas would impress as stand-alone gardens, but collectively the mind is blown away. So, what is it like to work as a trainee at Bodnant Garden? In a word, fantastic! Never a dull moment, something new to learn each and every day, along with being within a diverse team which makes my job a joy to arrive at each morning.

Without a doubt the highlight of my week is 8am Monday morning for the plant identification test. Such is my sadistic mind, I welcome with open arms the challenge of learning 20 new Latin plants names each week and being able to recount them word perfect so as to achieve the ever illusive 100%.

Possibly the only downside to working at Bodnant is there being no specific jobs which allow us to shelter away from the Welsh rain, which has been abundant this last year. But us gardeners are made of stern stuff and we’re not going to let a little bit of the wet stuff slow us down. So come rain or shine you will find me with a smile on my face as I work in the best office in the world!

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Richard, on tractor, and fellow student gardener Keith Phelan


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