The one thing I have biggest problem within my line of work is what to call myself when others ask me what I do, I can and haven’t found a job title or word that sums up what I do as a profession. After reading a thread on twitter, I realised I am not alone in this land of confusion. Well basically I am a gardener, that falls under the large umbrella of horticulture. But what is a gardener and what does one do, to me it covers everything done within the outside, in a managed area, cultivated for our pleasure, work can be mowing, pruning, weeding, basically covers everything to manage that landscape. The title simply cover everything from the beginner to the more experienced of gardener. A gardeners job can involve a huge amount of skills including cleaning, carpentry, masonry, road repairs, drain works, traffic control, furniture removal and moving, taxi service/chauffeur, flower arranger, painter, cooking, pr officer, website designer, writer, photographer, garden interpreter, knowledge of all plants that grow on this humble planet (yes that includes the pink thing with sticky up bits) social media expert, trainer, consultant, member of the estate management team, public relations officer, hard landscaper, soft landscaper, poo clear up (animal or human!) weather forecaster, well ok you get the picture, we have to be experts in all we do let alone just gardening! Even just gardening there are so many different parts and skills that need to learnt and understood, some can take a few minutes to learn, others can take a whole lifetime to learn and understand, some you can know for them to suddenly change (thinking of plant names here, that’s all most a job on its own keeping up!) keeping up with health and safety, ever changing chemicals, new better ways of doing things.
Gardening is like all other jobs, from cookery to plumbing, there are those who just do the basics, that’s all they want to do and that’s fair enough, we all need those who enjoy just weeding mowing etc. But we also need those ones who want to do the more skilled areas of work from pruning to managering a herbecous border, how do we recognise their higher level of skills they have, skilled gardener, craftsman gardener, area manager, higher graded posts as well, are some of the titles I have seen used. Of all those I prefer craftsman gardener personally but it still doesn’t cover what I do.
Why? Because I work for myself and as I do that, I must be a mow and blow guy? Isn’t every self employed gardener the same? Weeding Madame, well yes they must mean the whole border, plants and all ……… pruning, yes I prune sir, out comes the hedge cutter/chainsaw/maschette/nalpam ect. There’s a lot out there like that but we aren’t all like that, I have trained and worked in some of the best gardens in the U.K, I LOVE my job and the plants I work with, I take great pride into learning as much of the trade, plants, materials and methods, seeing new and old ways of doing things in the garden. I pride myself in doing the top job I can do, one that gets the best out of the plant and the garden, keeping in context within the plan and the site. The tools are use, are the best I can get to do the job to the finest finish I can. And I am not alone, I know quite a few people who are also have the same or greater level of knowledge, skill base and work ethic. Is there a better way of defining this type of gardener other than just the amount they charge? Being a member of trade groups like The Chartered institute of Horticulture, The Proffesional Gardeners Guild, The Gardeners Guild and the newly formed Professional Garden Counsultant Association and spending time to gain qualifications does help to define us a little. But there must be a word that would sum up us better? What would cover say someone like me who yes I do a little garden Maintenance but also specialise in certain skills, like pruning, wildlife gardening, roses, but also in a normal week does border designs, garden consultancy and advisory, photography, writing for magazines and blogs and carry out training? Frankly I haven’t got a clue, Horticulturist does make the public think you are little better than just a gardener, but should just being a ‘gardener’ be such a lowly word and mean so little in the publics mind? I ended up saying I was a Horticultural specialist every time someone asked me and on my website, still don’t feel it’s quite right though…..
So pleased I am also not just the only one out there having this dilemma, so many self employed gardeners have the same problem, there must be a solution. Mary Keen in a brilliant article in the Telegraph, said that highly experienced and maybe qualified gardeners are being in great demand and should be treated as like the rare objects they are becoming.
Any thoughts, suggestions would be gratefully received!
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Personally, Tom, I see no reason to stray from the “Master”, Graham Stuart Thomas, when it come to defining what we do/are. He always used to refer to himself as a ‘Gardener’ while leaving it to others to pour on the accolades! He seldom travelled abroad, so I don’t know what was entered on his passport. As for mine, it says, simply, ‘Gardener’!