CWG Garden Management and Landscape Trainee Scheme

I set up and managed London Wildlife Trust’s Garden Management and Landscape Trainee scheme based at the Trust’s Centre for Wildlife Gardening, an award winning demonstation wildlife garden and education centre in East Dulwich, London.   It was a scheme that aimed to show the participants issues about public and private garden design and maintenance within a wildlife friendly and sustainable context as well as broader urban biodiversity landscape issues.  We did this through class room based teaching, on site practical work, site visits and visiting speakers.

Trainees hard at work on a planting plan

The trainees spent a day a week at the centre. We spent the morning on educational subjects such as gardening and horticultural techniques, species identification, landscape design and urban biodiversity and sustainability.  We had group seminars, site visits and visiting speakers to expand on sustainable and biodiverse urban landscape issues and awareness.  The afternoon was spent in the gardens putting the theory into practice.

Trainees clearing the pond at CWG

It was a fantastic project – past trainees developed their skills and awareness of biodiversity and landscape issues and several went on to join garden design and horticulture courses as well as Landscape Architecture programs and employment.  Sadly the funding was discontinued but it is hoped that future funding will be sourced and the trainee scheme can continue.

A visiting speaker for the group

Some trainees sowing seeds in the greenhouse

Tidying the chalk slope

The trainees preparing to completely replant a raised bed

New bed beautifully replanted


Some recent feedback:

…I was rather uplifted when I found out that I had been accepted onto the trainee scheme run by Elaine Hughes at the London Wildlife Trust’s Centre for Wildlife Gardening in south-east London. I didn’t know quite what to expect from the scheme, but I was familiar with the urban oasis setting of the CWG and was looking forward to, not just helping out as a volunteer, but receiving something a little more that the usual volunteer feel good factor.

Elaine most certainly did not disappoint. Her relaxed approach is deceptively effective. The scheme has a strong thread of wildlife preservation at its core whilst exploring other aspects of gardening and landscaping. Topics that have been covered include maintaining public and private gardens, attention to details within a landscaped setting, ways to approach design briefs and managing new garden projects.

The balance between theory and practical is just right. This is also the case with how Elaine both teaches gardening principles and facilitates and directs self learning through group discussions, site visits and…. light homework. Elaine’s enthusiasm is contagious and her advice to each individual in each situation that arises is considered and enlightening. Not everyone in such a position manages to strike these balances.

Since joining this scheme my passion for, and knowledge of wildlife gardening and landscaping has grown beyond expectation. The scheme (and Elaine) have given me the confidence to put this knowledge into practice. So much so that I recently put forward a funding and project appraisal for a project within the London Wildlife Trust, had it accepted, and am due to completed the project very soon.

May I take this opportunity to say ‘Thank You!’ to Elaine Hughes and all those involved in making this scheme happen. It’s simply invaluable…


…Through the scheme, and thanks to the assistant of Elaine Hughes and support of the Centre of Wildlife Gardening, I have participated in the Chelsea Fringe Show presenting an edible flower garden with a team of colleagues from the training scheme. 

I also feel a more confident person that can work in a team and can lead activities in gardening. Being part of the Wildlife Gardening Training Scheme has shaped the orientation of my professional future. Without doubt, this type of scheme has and would be beneficial to many others who are seeking or finding their way to prospective careers in the professional world…


…CWG gave me the relaxed environment in which to take on board and digest the vast array of knowledge offered. Working in a collective group proved massively beneficial and is something that I have enjoyed developing further since finding my own community gardening project…

…The Volunteer Training Scheme provides an excellent opportunity to gain hands on gardening experience. Practical learning is very well supported through classroom based theory sessions, talks from visiting professionals, and some fantastic local site visits. I’m now studying Landscape Architecture, and often call upon many of the practical lessons I learnt in the garden. It was great to meet like-minded people, who all share an interest in the natural environment. ..

A recent site visit to the Tate Modern private community garden

…I found the scheme both incredibly enjoyable and useful for my professionaldevelopment . I am currently studying for an RHS horticultural course and the practical skills and theoretical knowledge that I gained during the scheme have been invaluable to me in achieving my desired grades. I am hoping to move into the sector in a professional capacity and this course has provided a great basis for this. I would definitely recommend it to other people in a similar situation…

…The course developed my practical skills in gardening with wildlife in mind while also opening my eyes to other related disciplines such as design and landscape architecture. It was an inspiring mix of hands-on work and visits to other open spaces. As a result it confirmed my passion for working with plants. I am now on a full time BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture…