New Trainees at West Dean

Award-winning West Dean Gardens near Chichester, is very pleased to welcome two new garden trainees – George Ellis and Camilla Flint – who are the next recipients of the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Scholarship.

Both trainees are local, one from East Sussex and the other from Hampshire, and have changed career paths in the past few years to pursue their passion to work in prestigious gardens and learn from inspiring gardeners. Previously, George was a professional tuba player after studying at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, however, recently he has been volunteering at Charleston as well as achieving his RHS Level 2 qualification at Plumpton.

Millie worked as a Primary School teacher, focusing on art, but has always had an interest in gardening. She recently finished her diploma in design at Inchbald School of Design, then worked with Ann-Marie Powell for six weeks, including working on her garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Commenting on his traineeship, George spoke of the wonderful opportunity to learn from gold-standard experts: “I have been at West Dean for almost three weeks now and am really enjoying the variety and broad experience that this opportunity is giving me – we rotate one week in the Walled Garden and then one week in the grounds of the College. Working in the glasshouses is a new challenge for me – learning from the experts and I hope by the end of the year, I will have the confidence to put what I have learnt into practice,” he said.

For Millie, deciding to apply for the internship at West Dean Gardens means more practical horticultural knowledge and experience and working directly with plants: “I love to be outside and have come to realise that I am far happier in a potting shed for example, than a desk or a classroom. Most of my previous experiences in gardens were focused on atypical English Cottage gardening, but at West Dean, I am broadening my repertoire and knowledge of plants, learning scrumptious new ones every day. I particularly love being in the arboretum and the Spring Garden with the trees and working immersed in their majestic silence they seem to create,” she said.

The two one-year positions are being overseen by West Dean’s Head  Gardener Tom Brown (pictured banner above, centre, with George and Millie) who has managed the previous trainees at the Garden and prior to that trainee programmes at RHS Wisley and Parham.

Tom points out that he is fortunate to be able to work at West Dean Gardens with its vast amount of facilities and garden environments from Victorian Glasshouses to the Arboretum as well as its comprehensive fruit collection: “It is wonderful to be able to share and teach Camilla and George amongst these facilities to become equipped to enter the gardening world at an extremely competent level when they leave West Dean. Whether it be in large gardens or in domestic plots, we are short of good gardeners with sound knowledge and experience, so we have a duty at West Dean Gardens to help plug that gap and train the gardeners of tomorrow.

The establishment of the Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain Trainee Horticulturalist fund dates back to 2018 and is aimed at giving trainees a firm foundation and great start in horticulture. We wish George and Millie every success in the future. For further information on West Dean Gardens please visit:

Images ©West Dean Gardens: Banner, George and Millie with Tom; Middle: George with Glasshouse Gardener Kelly Dyer (credit The Duck Father).