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Hello everybody, I am currently studying my level 3 in horticulture and one of my many units include an investigated project and I have chosen "Should all horticulturalists be qualified and would a trade body help?" I am looking for opinions at this point and would be grately appreciated. Thanks Sam.

Hello Sam, I know nothing about horticulture. I'm just a gardener. However, I used to be self employed as a craftsperson. There are two ways that a person can offer a professional service. One is by having acquired a level of skill through college study over a relatively short period of time and one is by having aquired knowledge over a lifetime of trial and error. Clearly, the latter is not the best method as one is then too old to have a viable working life in which to offer one's services.

It would be folly for anyone to sell themselves as a source of professional advice without having a resevoir of professional knowledge themselves. In fact, it would be fraudulent. So yes, I would say that horticulturalists should be qualified.

As to whether a trade body would help, I'm surprised to hear that there isn't a trade body already.

I think there is a case for varying degrees of training/ qualifications. For example, there have been discussions on the threads here recently about the value of groundsmen having some basic horticultural knowhow ( to stop them scalping shrubs into lollipops when they would be better left to grow a bit)

Before employing anyone to work in my garden I'd want to see examples of their work and take references, as well as check out any qualifications they claimed to have. Post-qualification experience, character and personal aesthetics are just as important as the qualification.

Beware of Trade Bodies - they cost a lot to run, the membership fees go up year on year and they do little to protect the members - they imply protection for members of the public, but in my experience they provide no more cover than a decent insurance policy does, but at a higher cost. 



A combination of experience and qualifications would be my preference.  There's nothing worse than an 'overeducated idiot' with a shiny degree and no common sense. In my profession (IT) I interview a lot of candidates who look great on paper but in the flesh, well, I wouldn't trust them to change the batteries in my alarm clock.  I'd much prefer anyone, in any profession, to have a proper apprenticeship with on-the-job learning AND organised college day-release so they get the best of both worlds simultaneously and end up with a really great offering for a future employer.


The wiki definition of horticulture is very wide, and runs from gardeners to intensive food or plant producers. I don't see any point in a certificate before I can open a bag of compost. There will be many people working within the industry who only do one thing, such as propagation and potting on. This is learnt by experience, or the master and his apprentice.I don't see that that needs a certificate either. I think that anyone with an interest should be able to take a qualification or learn skills to the highest level. I do not want to see restrictions on who can do what, as it would exclude people without  formal education from doing what is essentially a skills based task.

If I was looking to pay someone to say, prune a large tree, I would expect that person to be trained in how to safely carry out that task.

Sorry if I was didn't explain the trade body part enough I meant should they HAVE to belong to a trade body. Thanks for the great replies so far.

I think I agree with Macivity on this. I work in the care sector and there's nothing worse than someone who has done a basic N.V Q(nobody fails these)trying to tell me things that I've been experiencing for 25yrs. That is not to say that I ever stop learning, there are always new methods and ideas. LIke the Hovis loaf, best of both is good  


Paying to belong to a trade body does not guarantee quality. All it means is that you have paid the fees. If belonging to a trade body means that you have to have certain qualifications, and that you can be thrown out for poor work, then that would be a start.

Thanks for the brilliant replies Very informative to see what other views people have on this.

Sorry if I was didn't explain the trade body part enough I meant should they HAVE to belong to a trade body. Thanks for the great replies so far.

If they have to belong to a trade body, before they can practise, then you turn  a trade into a profession. I can only see the point of this if it protects the general public in some way. For instance, gas fitters have to be trained and qualified and on the gas safe register. It is against the law to install a gas boiler unless you are qualified and on the gas safe register. This protects the public from Bodgit and scarper unlimited.

 I cannot see how horticulturists would need a trade body that they would have to belong to,in order to be able to carry out their trade.


Snap!  Must be drinking alone on a Friday night - how sad 



nothing else to do in aberdeen on a friday night, poor soul.

... returning to the Q posed...Sam... you still haven't defined horticulturalist...

...'A gardener is a person that tends to a garden and is therefore a horticulturist. However, not all horticulturists are gardeners'. I'm happy to be wrong but this is a gardening forum.

I think... for what it's worth...people can garden without having formal qualifications, I don't have formal horticultural qualifications yet me thinks I do pretty well in the gardening department as regards growing veg  and other stuff I'm familiar am therefore a horticulturalist by the  above knowledge has been gained through experience, from other people and reading...I try to be organic, am interested in conservation.... 

I decided before finishing reading your Q ...the answer was set out to support that judgement. Dawin sprung to mind and his theories. Darwin although an educated man and a biologist he had no formal qualifications to arrive at the conclusion he did around the evolution of man (happy to be wrong on that point) he set out on a vorage of discovery, gardening is like that, you don't need qualifications but if you want to change the world having a better understanding helps and if that is gained through formal qualfications... why not ...I'm sat on the fence...        

Yeah horticulture is a bit of a naff word isn't it? There's just so much going on under the horticultural umbrella. I can understand how "gardeners" can see the no formal qualifications route of entry. But I think with landscapers, designers and tree surgeons a little bit more knowledge and finesse is required? So by horticulturalist I probably mean a skilled person in the horticulture industry. I completely agree that most people can "garden" without qualifications.