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JOB Ref: EC42791

Senior Gardener

  • Full Time PRIVATE AD
  • Up to £35,000 DOE
  • Gloucestershire

A Senior Gardener is sought to assist Sir Henry and Lady Elwes maintain and develop the gardens at Colesbourne Park, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and their Snowdrop Collection and display. Good general knowledge of standard horticultural practice is required, and an interest in snowdrops and trees is very desirable.

This is predominantly a hands-on, full-time (40 hours/week) post. A part-time position might be considered in order to permit the post holder to carry out other duties such as writing or horticultural tours. There is one full-time assistant gardener. An estate cottage may be available under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy if required.


Colesbourne Park is the centre of an Estate of 2,500 acres and the Gardens and Parkland are the creation of Victorian Plantsman Henry John Elwes FRS VMH, author of Monograph of the Genus Lilium, The Trees of Great Britain & Ireland and many journal articles.

After his death in 1922 there was a long period of decline until the 1980s when great‑grandson Sir Henry Elwes and his wife Lady Elwes developed the Snowdrop Collection based upon original plants collected by Henry John Elwes, including the superior Galanthus elwesii AGM. The Garden now contains over 250 species and cultivars of snowdrops and is recognised as the best collection in England attracting more than 5,000 visitors in February and plant sales of more than £20,000.

In addition, the Arboretum, also started by Henry John Elwes as a plantsman’s collection, contains over 300 specimens, added to by many planted over the last 50 years by Sir Henry Elwes, and it has attracted visiting parties from the International Dendrology Society, the Royal Forestry Society and many other organisations. The Tree Register UK has identified 13 Champion UK trees and 35 Gloucestershire Champions.

Some years ago the Gardens were set up as a separate Limited Liability Partnership to take charge of the Gardens and Arboretum, to attract visitors, lay on study days and conduct sales of snowdrop plants. Catering services during the weekend openings in February are ‘given’ to various local charities.

Although past retirement age, Sir Henry and Lady Elwes take a close interest in the Gardens and Arboretum, and their two sons are directors of Colesbourne Gardens LLP, and grandchildren help on Open Days.

The Gardens comprise around 10 acres, about half of which is a woodland garden featuring spectacular massed displays of naturalised bulbs, with a similar area of formal garden comprising lawns, a long herbaceous border, and Courtyard Garden with raised snowdrop beds. The Spring Garden is a more informal area for display of special snowdrops, shrubs and winter plants including hellebores, etc. The grounds include a very unusual ‘blue’ lake of 4 acres. The surrounding Parkland and Arboretum cover a further 15 acres, which is grazed by sheep.

Colesbourne Park is a 1950s house on the site of a grand Victorian mansion, and extensive outbuildings have been retained for garaging, stores and a tea/lecture room.


Maintain, manage and develop the Colesbourne Park Snowdrop Collection and display to maximise its effect, including labelling and verification of the plants, annual division and spreading of snowdrops, propagation by chipping of rare cultivars.

Selection and potting of snowdrops for retail sales and their cultivation to saleable state.

Management of the sales during the open season and presentation of the stock for sale, including taking and recording orders, and correspondence with customers.

Design, planting and maintenance of Garden areas (herbaceous borders, Woodland Garden, Bog Garden, Wild Garden, Arboretum, Kitchen Garden, Nursery, etc.) to create and maintain an interesting and attractive collection and display of plants throughout the year, though with emphasis on the winter display. Tasks include:

  • Maintenance, presentation and improvement of beds and borders
  • Weeding, digging and mulching beds
  • Daily checks and tidying beds, containers and hard surfaces around the house
  • Planting of new shrubs, perennials and bulbs
  • Propagation of planting stock of all types of plants for use in the Garden
  • Training and supporting climbers and wall shrubs
  • Supporting, dead heading and cutting back perennials
  • Irrigation of bedding, borders and glasshouses
  • Feeding and pest control as appropriate
  • Pruning and training shrubs and young trees
  • Leaf removal in autumn
  • Maintenance of hedges, garden structures, paths and other hard landscape features
  • Assist with seasonal lawn maintenance tasks (Sir Henry carries out most of the mowing)
  • Management of Assistant Gardener, volunteers and oversight of outside contractors (mostly arboricultural)
  • Development of a team of volunteer helpers
  • Purchase of equipment and supplies in conjunction with the owners
  • Publicity and promotion of the Gardens and correspondence with the public/press in connection with the Snowdrop Open Days including social media
  • Development of the Arboretum including tree maintenance and planting
  • Assist with preparation of material for the website and leaflets for Open Days
  • Presence during the Open Days and interface with visitors, including leading guided tours of both snowdrops and arboretum
  • Assistance with occasional Study Days
  • Prepare Health and Safety risk assessments and remedial work. Respond to and report on any issues of health and safety concern and maintain an Accident Book
  • Ensure gardeners’ buildings, glasshouses and yard are kept tidy and safe
  • Chainsaw, strimmer, spraying and first aid qualifications are desirable
  • Regular liaison with the garden owners (Sir Henry and Lady Elwes)
  • Occasional assistance with other Estate duties (fallen roadside trees, etc.)
  • Maintain small garden at Dower House for Sir Henry and Lady Elwes, including assistance with vegetable and fruit growing.
  • Look at our website:

This job will include some weekend working with days off in lieu.


  • Previous experience in a variety of horticulture roles, with an emphasis on ‘hands-on’ gardening, organising and planning work, care of machinery and tidiness
  • Personable and able to work well in a small team
  • Fastidious approach and take pride in achieving the highest standards in horticulture
  • Capable of hard, physical work
  • Enthusiastic about plants, gardens and horticulture
  • Good plant knowledge
  • Flexible approach to work, including weekend work with days off in lieu
  • Excellent relationship with visitors and experience in the presentation of knowledge


  • Remuneration: £30,000 – £35,000 per annum according to experience, general working conditions and holidays as for Agricultural Workers


A letter of application and CV, together with relevant qualification certificates, should be sent to:

Sir Henry Elwes KCVO, Estate Office, Colesbourne Park, Colesbourne, Cheltenham, Glos, GL53 9NP, or by email:

This private advert is being managed directly by the employer. English Country Gardeners are not involved in the hiring process and are therefore unable to share any additional information on this role. If you have any questions regarding this position, the best course of action is to apply for the job which will open a line of communication with the employer.

Tagged as: Senior Gardener

Colesbourne Gardens