Published onMay 14 2019
Recently we caught up with Bryony Mills Lantra Pesticides Assessor from Nurture Landscapes. Bryony gives us an insight into her career in Horticulture, where her love for the industry started, how her journey has blossomed and all of the benefits of having a career in horticulture.
What made you decide to start a career in the sector?
Ever since I was a young child, my mother and grandmother instilled in me a love of gardening and plants. That developed into a deep passion about horticulture and all its various elements. I find plants, the environment and nature incredible and I get an immense amount of satisfaction from being a part of this industry. All through my career I have tried to help empower others around me and teach them everything I find so fascinating. I think horticulture is crucial to people’s health, both physical and mental and is so important to making the world around us better.
What experience had you had before you joined Nurture Landscapes?
I originally studied and qualified as a landscape designer to blend my love of horticulture with my love of art. Once I had qualified and worked in design for a while, I moved to the UK and really wanted to understand the maintenance element behind the designs I did. I started working in grounds maintenance for Gavin Jones and just fell in love with the challenge and sheer sense of achievement and pride I got from making the landscape around me look amazing. I was lucky to be taught on the job by some great people and also trained with the RHS as well as several other organisations (Lantra included!). I worked my way up from operative, foreman, supervisor to Head Gardener of an illustrious private estate which my team and I were lucky to be able to see re-designed and rebuilt into something spectacular. The estate went on to win a BALI Grand award. Once I had children, I could no longer work full time and the company was very supportive, creating a Horticultural Trainer position for me and from there, I went on to become Training Manager and I get a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction form training now. In 2017, I achieved Chartered Horticulturist. In 2018, Gavin Jones became a part of Nurture Landscapes and we became a part of a much larger family which provides me with the opportunity to train and inspire even more people.
What drives you towards a role focused on improving skills in the sector?
Throughout my career in horticulture, the one thing I noticed was that so many of the people in our industry have practical experience, but they don’t always understand the ‘science behind the job’. For example, they knew that plants need to be pruned but not necessarily how, why, when or where. I think this is so important in understanding the job and having the knowledge to make good decisions. Likewise, training people in spraying, machinery or any of the courses Lantra provides is so important to keep people, the operators and the environment safe. We have a great responsibility to keep ourselves, our world and others safe, while doing the best possible job we can. Giving people these skills and knowledge gives them the power to be the best they can and to build their own careers and legacies. I feel very privileged to be a part of their growth and development and I love hearing about people that I have trained loving their work, progressing and advancing.
What do you enjoy about working with Lantra?
Lantra has a fantastic reputation within the industry and I am fortunate to be able to work with the organisation to improve the knowledge and skills within our industry. The courses are comprehensive, and the support given to both learners and to us as assessors and trainers is excellent. The fact that Lantra focuses heavily on horticulture and the horticultural industry ensures the quality and speciality which allows us to confidently deliver them.
Is there such a thing as a typical day in your job?
My days are anything but typical. I have a number of roles within the company, from training, to apprentice support, to consultancy. I can be assessing a pesticide application course, to working with apprentices to improve their skills in propagation, to writing and designing a new course. Likewise, I go anywhere from central London, to Essex, to Bristol and everywhere in between. My fellow Lantra trainer in Nurture, John Beavan, and I share a lot of the training and assessing and try to support each other wherever possible. As part of the compliance team, I also keep an eye out for health and safety within the company and help to make sure that all our sites are running to the highest level of safety.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Without a doubt it is seeing learners really get interested and passionate about their jobs and what I am teaching them. I love seeing all the different sites, areas and people and talking to them about plants! I also love getting stuck in ‘on the tools’ whenever I can and keeping my practical skills up to date and sharp. Being able to create a positive and safe working environment for staff is also really important to me.
What advice would give to anyone wanting to work in the sector?
The sky is the limit and if you work hard and love what you do, you can do anything! This is such a versatile and diverse industry that you are never restricted to just one area. You are never too old to learn something new (I’m still learning every day!) and it certainly doesn’t matter if you’re male or female – my gender has certainly never held me back. There really is so much that is amazing about what we do so I encourage everyone to embrace every opportunity that comes their way.