Job profile: Skilled Horticulturist, Rainforest Biome
Hetty is a Skilled Horticulturist based in the Rainforest Biome and started working at Eden in March 2006.
What does a Skilled Horticulturist in the Rainforest Biome do?
We are each assigned an area within the Biome to look after and it is our job to maintain it. I look after the Tropical Crops from all over the world in the Cornucopia exhibit. This involves tasks such as weeding, general maintenance, making everything look tidy and nice jobs like pollinating. We are all trained to work on ropes and use Mobile Elevated Work Platforms, because we have to get up high to prune the trees. We do a lot of research about our areas and I travelled to Costa Rica in February to visit the Earth University. This enabled me to learn about what’s going on with producing major tropical crops in the world. This is an example of a brilliant training opportunity that Eden has given me.
Working in the Biome involves a lot of teamwork as there are often big jobs which require us to all work together as a team. We usually do these jobs in the mornings before the public arrive. Two or three times a week for example, we will spend time between 7:30am and 10:00am watering all the plants and trees in the Biome. We also use teamwork for jobs like mulching, which is where we all group together and get our hands dirty laying compost throughout the biome.
We also work closely with other teams, such as the Foundation team to share ideas about the new exhibits that go into the Biomes; and the Science team looking at pests and disease, because these can cause a lot of problems in the Rainforest. Occasionally, when we are clearing out an area of the biome, we will also work closely with external voluntary organisations that come in to help out.
Do you enjoy your role?
I enjoy my role a lot and find it very interesting. It is really fulfilling getting plants to grow well and seeing unusual plants fruit and flower. It is wonderful! I also enjoy getting to meet lots of interesting visitors from around the world that come to visit the Eden Project when they are working on other projects. It is really good talking to them and finding out what is going on in other places. I really enjoy coming into work every day, it is a pleasure!
What do you like most about working for Eden?
The people that work here are fantastic. They are a really nice bunch of people! When you walk or drive around the site, everyone says hello to you and it is a really friendly place.
I am also a working mother and juggle full time work with looking after my lovely two year old son, along with my very supportive husband. Eden is great in allowing me to work from home for five hours a week. This gives me more time with my son and allows me to get on with paperwork, research and cropping diaries at a time that is convenient to me.
Tell us a bit about your background prior to joining Eden…
I came into horticulture quite late. I am dyslexic so didn't leave school with many qualifications. When I was 16-17 I was a bit of a rebel, ran away from home and spent the next few years on the dole or in dead-end jobs. When I was 24 I decided to go travelling in Australia where I spent a lot of time working on farms picking fruit, pruning and doing all sorts of grafting. During my two years in Australia I realised that I love working with plants and that you can have fun and be fulfilled whilst working.
When I returned home my auntie suggested that I train to be a gardener, since I enjoyed working outside so much. I didn't even know you could train to be a gardener! I had a look around and discovered some horticultural courses in Cornwall. I moved down from the Cotswolds and did a foundation degree in Commercial Horticulture at Duchy College. Following this I studied a degree in Plant Discovery and Exploitation. Just before I finished my degree a Horticultural job came up at Eden. I applied for the job and now here I am!