Course: Level 2 Horticulture Operative, Pershore College.
Have you always been interested in horticulture?
Yes, my Grandad was always in his garden and when I was younger, I did his mowing for him, and it all started from there.
How did you learn about 4th Corner?
My dad works at FN Piles, the machinery dealer in Warmington, and so he was familiar with 4th Corner, and I think he had met some of the lads in there a few times. I was looking to do a college course in horticulture, but I had not found one that seemed to offer what I needed, so we gave Julian a call to see what he suggested.
I then had an interview at 4th Corner and after talking over a few options, Julian suggested an Apprenticeship. After looking at the courses, the Horticultural Operative Level 2 seemed like a good choice for me. The two years have gone fast, particularly as I have been at work most of the time as well as studying the theory side at home.
You passed you Theory paper with distinction, you must have been extremely focused throughout the course?
Yes, I think because I have always had an interest in horticulture, maintenance in particular, I just found I could engage in the course as a whole. It all fitted together, and the practical side helped me to learn the theory.
Did you find working juggling the college work and the daily routine of work difficult to get used to?
No, not really, it has been good to be able to learn on the job and practice the important skills like pruning and plant identification as soon as I have been given the training and information. The Apprenticeship gave me confidence to go out and enjoy the work because I knew exactly how to get on with the job. I now have enough knowledge to work with other operatives, and pass on my knowledge and skills which again, has improved my overall confidence.
What are some of the subjects covered by the course?
• Plant identification
• Plant science
• Soil science
• Plant nutrition
• Plant health
• Machinery and equipment and use• Pruning
Which horticultural tasks do you most enjoy?
I really like pruning, it is an important skill to have, recently I have been enjoying rose and wisteria pruning .
What are your ambitions now?
Horticulture Level 3 at Pershore, then use my skills, knowledge, and experience to become a Senior Team Leader and aim for Operations Manager or a similar role at 4th Corner.
As well as horticultural skills, did you learn any business skills?
Yes, the course helped me to be organised, focused and to communicate with colleagues for the purpose of training and leading a team.
Would you recommend a horticultural apprenticeship to anyone else?
Yes definitely. It has given me so much confidence and the skills I need to work safely, with confidence and to progress my career.
Have you any areas of focus for your career?
More responsibility is where I want to be heading, and my passion is maintenance, pruning, mowing, improving places, making sites look better, and eventually to manage a team and pass on my skills and passion.
As of 2023, Matthew is a Senior Team Leader in our Grounds Maintenance Department.