The production manager of the National Dahlia Collection in Penzance has urged students to consider a career in horticulture, after revealing she can’t believe she is paid to do something she loves.
Duchy College Rosewarne celebrates 25 years of teaching that has seen tens of thousands of students pass through its doors, each with their own story to tell, none more so than Louise Danks.
Louise, 39, a former Roseland Academy student, studied Ornamental Horticulture at Rosewarne for two years from 1996 and has seen her qualification take her to study and work in incredible locations.
“A few years after leaving the College I studied the Kew diploma from 2001 to 2004, where only 14 students per year were taken from all over the world, I felt very lucky,” she explained.
“It involved a series of lectures in the School of Horticulture and practical placements over the three years.”
Showing the calibre of students that study horticulture at Duchy College, Louise noted that when studying at Kew there was a student in each of the three year groups who had studied at Rosewarne.
Whist studying at Kew, Louise won a travel scholarship, which lead to her studying orchids for a month in Ecuador which she explains was a real highlight. Living in London following her studies, opened doors to more unique opportunities in the horticultural industry.
“After studying I began volunteering as a horticultural runner for the BBC at flower shows and then was employed as a researcher and director,” she explained.
“I worked on all of the flower show coverage and went on to work on Gardeners’ World, Grow your Own Drugs, The Great Garden Challenge. I was also Head Gardener for Jasper Conran at Walpole House.”
After leaving London and television work to start her family, Louise now works as a production manager at the National Dahlia Collection in Penzance.
“I love my current job and can’t quite believe that I’m being paid for it. I grow dahlias all day long. We have had a very busy shows’ season and every year we take rooted cuttings that we supply via mail order to our customers. It will be in the region of around 30,000 cuttings all taken by hand!”
This year Louise achieved her personal goal by winning gold at Chelsea, Chatsworth and Hampton flowers shows with the National Dahlia Collection and also platinum at BBC Gardeners World Live.
The horticultural industry is vast and varied and the jobs available to qualified students include all of the above that Louise has experienced and more. The number of students leaving schools to advance onto horticulture has declined, but the jobs are still there, meaning there is a demand for employees.
“I always had a passion for plants and growing, but doing the course at Rosewarne shaped that passion into something that made sense. I don’t consider growing plants as a job. I do it at work and at home and become quite grumpy when I can’t get into the garden! I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Rosewarne, I also met my husband there!”