Head Gardener

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This post gives a unique opportunity to work in a historic 4 acre garden in central Norwich. Bishop’s House garden is one of the oldest cultivated gardens in the country and has achieved national acclaim. The garden is both a quiet space for the Bishop, his family, staff and those on retreat, as well as a centre for the Bishop’s wider mission and charitable works.

As Head Gardener, you will be professional and proactive, with an eye for detail and horticultural flair. You will be comfortable representing the Bishop to all who visit, including providing guided tours and overseeing garden open days. With responsibility for an Assistant Gardener, volunteer group and occasional student placements, you will ensure that excellent standards of garden care and presentation are delivered at all times.

Your working hours are 39 per week (plus one-hour lunch break) normally worked Monday to Friday.

There may also be a requirement to water the garden after normal hours and tend to the greenhouse at weekends. The garden is open for charity open days on a number of Sundays and attendance is expected for which time off in lieu is given. In addition, garden tours and events hosted by the Bishop are sometimes outside of normal working hours and some flexibility will be required.

The post is offered on a permanent basis subject to the successful completion of a 6 month probation period and an enhanced DBS check.

If you would like to attend a Garden Open Day, the details can be found here: https://www.dioceseofnorwich.org/about/bishops/norwich/gardens. To arrange an informal conversation about the role please email mandy.adams@churchofengland.org.

Interviews will be held on the 7th June 2019 in Norwich.

In return we offer a unique environment with opportunities for continuous learning, generous annual leave for work life balance and what we feel is a market leading package when it comes to our pension scheme.

The Role :

The role of the Head Gardener is to maintain the historic four acre garden at Bishop’s House, Norwich which has gained national recognition. It comprises woodland, lawns, herbaceous borders, rose garden, a kitchen garden with nursery, hedges, wild flower labyrinth, bee hives and extensive shrubberies as well as a private garden for the Bishop and his family, to be kept at the highest possible standard. The garden is an integral part of the Bishop’s ministry of hospitality and is used for a wide range of functions, events and quiet days throughout each year, hence the Head Gardener and their team provide a vital role in the Bishop’s mission and ministry.

Principal Responsibilities

Working with and supported by colleagues, the Head Gardener will:

Have a passion for gardening and horticulture

  • Looking after the horticultural aspects of all aspects of the garden.
  • Developing the greenhouse and growing facilities, including planning a structured propagation programme.
  • Working ecologically and with a strong focus on care for the environment, including managing green waste (including leaves) to ensure that as much as possible is re-cycled on site while running an efficient cyclical compost system to ensure composted waste returns to the garden to enrich the soil.
  • Looking after the nursery area in readiness for charity open days including propagation, plant ordering, potting up, and labelling all plants to raise funds to support the garden.
  • Having oversight of the portfolio of trees, monitoring their general health particularly from the point of view of safety, devising and implementing a Management Plan with reference to professionally prepared tree surveys, ensuring that the Bishop is given technical advice on all issues relating to the trees.
  • Organising qualified arboriculture contractors to carry out specified programmes of tree work on an annual basis.
  • Liaising with the Bishop and any spouse for the planned provision of fruit, vegetables and herbs.
  • Ensuring effective pest control, the care of the fish, and maintenance of the fish pond and its irrigation.
  • Giving informative personal guided tours on request and be on site to oversee the charity Open Days, Quiet Days, and participation in the Heritage Open Days. This will involve some weekend and evening working.

Work well with others

  • Liaising directly with the Bishop regarding future plans for the garden.
  • Liaising closely with the Bishop’s Chaplain and PA, following direction from the Bishop, work with the charities hosting open days annually and being present at each open day to represent the Bishop and to ensure its safe running.
  • Line managing any assistant gardener and team of garden volunteers so as to deliver optimum standards of garden care and presentation. There is also the potential of an apprenticeship scheme and the supervision of student placements.
  • Ensuring that garden staff and volunteers/students work within Health and Safety guidelines and are aware of relevant risk assessments.
  • Recruiting and caring for volunteers and students.

Ensure safety, operate within agreed policies, and keep records

  • Following the National Church Institutions’ policies (such as Safeguarding, Managing Performance, Managing Absence, and the Dignity at Work Policy).
  • Liaising with the Bishop’s PA and Secretary to ensure that agreed Health and Safety policies are followed.
  • Producing a garden, tours, retreat and open days report for the annual planning meeting.

Look after resources

  • Plan your time efficiently, devising and implementing effective seasonal schedules to ensure that the diverse gardening workload is delivered consistently to the highest standard, and that available resources are deployed and managed to optimum levels.
  • Arrange purchases within a defined budget, and looking for best value, liaising directly with the Bishop’s PA to achieve this.
  • Look after the portfolio of garden machinery and ensure its professional maintenance and regular renewal, and also the care and maintenance of the polytunnel and greenhouse.

Support the wider role of the Bishop’s ministry

  • Preparing the meeting rooms for gatherings, events and functions, and clearing away.
  • Undertaking general caretaking duties.
  • A fully enhanced DBS check will be undertaken and there is the requirement to undertake any safeguarding training necessary.

Any other duties as required

The Ideal Candidate :


  • Be passionate about gardening, with good horticultural knowledge and experience.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to the vision of the Bishop for the garden and show the ability and imagination to manage the realisation of that vision.
  • Attention to detail in all aspects of the role and general tidiness of the garden, workshops and storage areas.
  • The ability to undertake the physical demands of the role.
  • Be able to use and look after garden machinery.
  • Demonstrate a high level of interpersonal and communication skills with a diverse range of people.
  • Use of Microsoft Office and web-linked technology.


  • Proven track record working within one or more large private or estate gardens.
  • Have a good technical level of horticultural skills and practices, including an ability to learn about the wide range of plants in the garden.
  • Commitment to the care of the environment.
  • Have the understanding and experience to foster an inclusive and positive atmosphere across the diverse team of gardeners and volunteers.
  • Have a desire to share your knowledge with others and to pass on practical skills and knowledge.
  • Have the experience and knowledge to ensure that agreed Health and Safety policies are always adhered to, supporting this with formal Health and Safety training such as the IOSH Managing Safely course or equivalent.

Personal Attributes:

  • Communicate in a professional, respectful and courteous manner.
  • Have the ability to handle confidential information with discretion.
  • Have the ability to keep calm when busy or under pressure.
  • Track record of being able to work both as part of a team and on one their own.
  • Sensitivity towards the needs of the Bishop and any family, and other members of staff.
  • Sympathetic to the Christian faith, the mission of the Church of England, and the ministry of the Bishop of Norwich.


  • Hold a recognised qualification in horticulture at the appropriate level (such as the Royal Horticultural Society Diploma, RHS Level 3 in Practical Gardening, the Kew Diploma or equivalent).
  • Full and current driving licence.
  • NPTC PA1 and PA6 desirable, or prepared to undertake.
  • Certificated courses in machinery competence, working at heights, lifting and first aid undertaken, or prepared to undertake.

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As we are a member of the Armed Forces Covenant, we welcome all applications from those you have served in our Armed Forces and their families

We are committed to building a culturally diverse workforce. As part of this commitment, we welcome applications from people, regardless of their background. As a Disability Confident committed employer, it is important to note that there may be occasions where it is not practical or appropriate to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria* due to high volume. We limit the amount of interviews conducted to five applicants per open post we advertise.

*Where applicable depending on post requirements.