Student Profile

Photograph of Alastair Arnold

Alastair Arnold

Graduated: BSc (Hons) Horticulture
Nationality: British
Occupation: Assistant Head Gardener

My Writtle University College
The horticulture degree scheme at Writtle offered a range of core and optional modules unrivalled by any other similar course in the country. This enabled me to follow a pathway that included the specialist subjects that I was particularly interested in and the subject areas that I considered useful for the future, all in addition to the core course subjects.

The final year dissertation research project allowed me to combine aspects of plant physiology with international studies - two areas of particular interest for me. On the sandwich degree programme I had the opportunity to take an industrial placement as part of the course. Through a contact initially sourced through the excellent College Industrial Placements Officer, I was offered a trainee position at a horticultural production nursery in Christchurch, New Zealand. This placement worked out particularly well and was a very worthwhile experience both professionally and socially.

In addition to study, being in a great environment at Writtle facilitated many varied social opportunities. Finding myself amongst like-minded people I formed some great friendships, many of which I am sure will be life-long. At the College I became involved with karate, badminton and cricket groups and took the chance to play in local sports competitions. Since starting at Writtle, I have travelled with fellow students to destinations such as India, the United States and Holland.

My Career Path
Prior to my studies at Writtle, I worked and trained for three years at a large private garden on the Surrey/ Berkshire border. Over the same time period, I completed a National Diploma course with distinction at Merrist Wood College in Surrey.

After graduating from the BSc (Hons) Horticulture course with first class honours in 2009, I gained immediate employment as a Manager at a large commercial plant nursery in north Essex. Later in the year I was offered a position as a Senior Gardener on a country estate in north Oxfordshire, which I took up in January 2010. Studying horticulture at Writtle has provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and inspiration; all essential tools for furthering my career. I am convinced that the many contacts I made with both staff and students will exert an influence over my direction at some stage in the future.

My Current Job
I am currently employed as Assistant Head Gardener, at Broughton Grange Estate, located in rural north Oxfordshire. There are three main aspects to my job. These are: running the onsite plant nursery and plant sales, developing and managing a global positioning system (GPS) database for all woody plants on the estate and, maintaining the extensive walled garden. I particularly enjoy running the plant nursery, which is a project of mine to expand over the next few years.

Working with a large range of plant species and cultivars, I am continuously revising knowledge gained at Writtle College as well as learning more on a daily basis. There is a certain level of interaction with horticultural societies and the public, which provides a good opportunity to exchange knowledge and advice.

Future Plans
My long-term career plan is to work as a horticultural manager, either in a garden situation or more of a commercial setting such as a production nursery. I would also be interested to work in an educational role, although my current focus is not on this. Working overseas provided many interesting experiences and I envisage doing so again at some stage in the future. The possibility of postgraduate study certainly interests me, although I have yet to decide which particular direction I would like to take.

Hints and tips for Writtle students
There are many opportunities available to those lucky enough to find themselves at Writtle, keep an open mind and grab every one with both hands!