The Royal Parks is giving two apprentices the chance to develop their horticultural skills working on the £1.5million project to improve the Isabella Plantation.

Based in Richmond Park's 40 acre woodland garden, the scheme is ideal for school leavers looking for a career in horticulture. Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and BIG Lottery Fund, the apprenticeship offers the successful applicant a chance to work within Isabella Plantation with its important collection of trees and shrubs.

There are two funded apprentice placements available, one to commence in September 2013 and the other in September 2014. Applications are now being sought to fill the first of the 18 month long apprenticeships, with the closing date at the end of April.

At the end of the scheme apprentices will graduate with The Royal Parks Certificate of Achievement and a level 2 diploma in work-based horticulture, leaving them ideally placed to advance their career within the horticultural industry either in a 'hands-on' role or go on to further study.

Last year Royal Parks Apprentice and Fountains employee Robert Kirkham, 19, from Twickenham, was awarded The Royal Parks Guild First Year Apprentice Award for his work on the union flag flower bed at Poet's Corner and the cyclist bed at Pembroke Lodge which were planted in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Road Race.

The apprentice will spend four days a week working and learning skills within Isabella Plantation, which will include:
All aspects of plant care and maintenance, cultivation and landscaping.
Identification of woodland trees and shrubs.
Organically approved methods of pest and disease control.
Operation and maintenance of a wide range of machinery.

Jo Scrivener,  Assistant Park Manager, said: “The apprentice scheme gives the successful applicant an opportunity to gain valuable experience in one of London’s Royal Parks and its special woodland garden.

“We were very fortunate to be able to secure £1.5 million from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and a further £120,000 from Sita Trust to deliver a range of improvements to Isabella Plantation.

“The new apprentices will be lucky enough to work on this fantastic project which will aim to improve access and visitor facilities as well as bring environmental and ecological enhancements to the Plantation.

“The Isabella Plantation is one of the most visited attractions in Richmond Park and it is hoped these improvements will encourage education and community activities and be enjoyed by park users for years to come.”

Recruitment for this year's apprentice has now begun with the closing date for applications on Tuesday 30 April 2013. For full details and to download an application form please visit The Royal Parks website