Botanical Gardener - working in Botanic Gardens or Arboreta

There is a botanical garden in almost every country in the world.  The oldest is in Italy at the University of Padua and the newest are all over the world from China to Wales. What constitutes a botanic garden is open to debate but one simple definition is that a botanic garden is a garden where plants are grown for more than just pleasure;  education, research, and conservation are the most common extra activities found in botanic gardens. An arboretum is just a botanic garden that contains only woody plants and often areas of native vegetation.

What They do

Botanical gardens and arboreta consist of much wider and more varied collections plants than any other type of garden and so the staff are either highly skilled specialists (such as experts in growing alpines or orchids) or highly skilled generalists who may be mowing the lawn one day and propagating an endangered species on the next day.

Botanical gardeners were often thought to be some of the most highly trained and qualified gardeners in the world.  While this may still be true there is undoubtedly a gap in the training provision as gardens have cut back on apprenticeships and as a result properly qualified botanical gardeners are in high demand.

What is Needed

In addition to a wide range of practical skills, the botanical gardener is expected to know not only what to do but also why they are doing the task in a particular way.  They are also expected to have a sound knowledge of the plant kingdom including plant classification and identification. Botanical gardeners often have the opportunity to travel to other countries to attend meetings or to collect plants or to help with plant conservation programmes.


As you work your way up in a botanic garden hierarchy you also need to develop management, motivation and training skills.  ACS has a course for every level of botanical gardener from those entering the profession to those who want to develop their careers by acquiring new skills such as motivation and management.

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