‘The glory of gardening: Hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is not just to feed the body but the soul.’ – Alfred Austin.
A career in horticulture can lead to a varied and fulfilling career for someone who has an interest in growing plants, food production and enjoys working in the outdoors.
Horticulture touches on so many aspects of our day-to-day lives; from the food we eat, to the flowers we buy for gifts and for our own enjoyment, to the parks and sports grounds we visit for play and recreation.
The horticulture industry has two main sectors: food and amenity produce. The key crops grown in Ireland include: mushrooms, potatoes, field veg, fruit, nursery stock, cut foliage, Christmas trees and bulbs. According to Bord Bia, the horticulture sector in Ireland is estimated to have an annual farmgate value of €380 million. Over 6,000 people are employed in this sector in full-time, part-time and seasonal work.
Am I suited to Horticulture?
Horticulturists can usually be found doing physical activity outdoors. So if hands on work and the outdoors sounds appealing to you then this career may be right up your alley. Realists and Naturalists are suited to this sector for the above reasons (manual work, outdoors) but there is also a great sense of satisfaction in seeing the fruits of your labour (literally!). Being able to see gardens grow, seeds germinate, flowers blossom, and being able to eat the fruit and veg you have grown are all very satisfying and rewarding.
You need to be creative if you are interested in landscape design and gardening but if growing seeds is your preference you may be more of an investigative person. Investigative people are attracted to the science of horticulture such as plant propagation (growing new plants from a variety of means such as seeds, cuttings, grafting and bulbs).
Being inclined towards enterprise and having an interest in business is another significant attribute. Many people working in horticulture are entrepreneurs so they need to know how to make money in this industry.
A Career for all Seasons
A horticulturist is closely connected with nature and has the privilege of observing and working with nature throughout the seasons. Here are some of the highlights of the seasons as described by Maura – a horticulturist graduate of WIT.
Spring – Is beginnings, anticipation, excitement, new growth, bulbs coming up, leaf buds beginning to swell and break, everything starts wakening up, evenings getting longer and temperatures beginning to rise.
Summer – Growth, work to be done, the flower buds and blooms, insects busy getting food and pollinating flowers, long warm (we hope) evenings, everything looks great with lots of colour.
Autumn – Slowing down, taking it easy, making sure there are food reserves, bud and flower formation slows, leaves start to fall, plants start to die back, their job done. Evenings getting shorter and weather turning colder.
Winter – Taking a rest, hibernation, work is done for the year. Time for a little snooze, evenings get very short and weather turns cold.
To read Maura’s interview in full click here.
Pathways to Horticulture
There are various routes into horticulture. To research PLC offerings in horticulture click here. Many of these courses provide links to Higher Education. You can also apply to Horticulture courses through CAO. UCD, WIT and TU Dublin offer degrees in horticulture, click here to find these courses. You can also browse part time courses in horticulture on fetchcourses.ie, click here.
There are five land sector apprenticeships proposals that were approved for development in December 2017. Keep an eye on the Apprenticeship section in the Careers Explorer to see when these apprenticeships go live.
- Sports Turf Technician
- Horticultural Technician.
- Farm Manager.
- Farm Technician.
- Stud Farm Manager.
A qualification in horticulture offers graduates a wide range of interesting and challenging career options such as landscape design, stadia groundskeeping, garden centres and nurseries, organic and conventional food production, golf course management, parks and gardens management and teaching horticulture. There are numerous employment opportunities in Ireland and worldwide for qualified horticulturists. Many graduates have also successfully established their own businesses in these sectors.
The CareersPortal Team