Royal Horticultural Society - National Diploma
My name is Peter Auger and I am a Craftsman Gardener with extensive experience and training. There are many topics one can train for in Horticulture, e.g. Ornamental Gardening, Soft and Top Fruit Growing, Glasshouse Culture, Lawns and Vegetable Production to name a few.
When deciding which area to train in, I decided to have a wide range of experience early on in my career and then specializing later on. So, my career path started with a three year apprenticeship. Working outside in all weathers really suited me, working under a Head Gardener who himself was trained at the Rothchild’s home Waddesdon Manor. (Now a National Trust property.)
After my apprenticeship I attended full-time college in Hertfordshire specialising in the final year with Glasshouse Production. The key to successful, productive growing under glass is “Attention to Detail”. This is something that has stayed with me all through my horticultural career.
After lecturing for five years in a wide range of Horticultural subjects to park department apprentices and the RHS General Certificate to amateur gardeners, I was drawn to working in historic Gardens.
Blenheim Palace was my first experience as Garden’s Manager and my initiation into “working in service” for the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Blenheim Gardens covered 90 acres and replacing a long service Head Gardener was quite a challenge when introducing new skills, training and work regimes. Inheriting a staff of twenty-two gardeners prompted the question, “what did they all do?”.
Managing an amazing garden that reflected the grandeur of such a prestigious palace benefited from my past experience of “attention to detail”. Renovating Victorian rose gardens, producing exotic fruit from the glasshouses, flower arranging for private functions and discovering aspects of the landscape were some of the fascination of Blenheim. Today many of the visitors are enjoying the foundational work I started with my team of gardeners, especially the arboretum leading down to the Cascades.
From Blenheim Palace I over-saw an Art and Craft movement garden in the Cotswolds. Rodmarton Manor had all the flair of Hidcote Manor, a flag-ship property of the National Trust yet was quite undiscovered by visitors for many years.
My next experience of “working in service” was at Buscot Park, Faringdon, Oxfordshire. Here the donor family managed the estate on behalf of the National Trust. Working at Buscot for Lord and Lady Faringdon in a garden and park land covering around 120 acres drew on all my past experience especially my times at Blenheim. Introducing the “attention to detail” to a garden that was full of potential for horticultural excellence became a long term passion. Working with designers and the family has contributed to what the garden is today, a garden full of colour, a landscape enhanced with ornamental trees and a grandeur fit for a palace.
Having relocated to Cornwall with my family, I am now in the position to offer my skills and experience to other gardens that would benefit from a little “attention to detail”. Every garden can become well presented whether being small areas to relax in, gardens needing a touch of restoration and those requiring planned re-designing.