WRAGS Frequently Asked Questions
  • WRAGS is a scheme run by the WFGA for its members.
  • The Work and Retrain As a Gardener Scheme offers an opportunity to train part time in practical gardening skills in a working garden, as part of a gardening team or with an experienced Garden Owner.
  • The trainee works between 12-14 hours a week over a year, covering all seasons.
  • You will be paid the National Living Wage (NLW) by the garden owner, and you are also entitled to paid holiday, calculated pro rata dependant on the hours worked for the year.

Yes. WRAGS  is only open to WFGA members and the trainee must retain their membership  for the whole of their placement year.

When completing an application form for membership an applicant can register for the WRAG Scheme on the same form, either as a Trainee or Owner. If you decide after joining WFGA that you would like to do WRAGS then please contact the office.

In order to cover all the necessary practical skills trainees are expected to work through every season.

When our Regional Managers initially visit a potential placement garden they are looking for a wide range of features to provide a broad scope of experience.  Not all gardens can offer opportunities to practice everything so we try to ensure that a garden can cover at least 80% of the skills below:

1. SOIL CULTIVATION AND COMPOST

Weeding, hoeing, digging, incorporation of bulky organic manures, application of fertilizers, mulching, creating compost & leaf mould.  Selection of appropriate times and conditions to perform these tasks.

2. PLANTING TECHNIQUES

Planting & transplanting containerised and bare-rooted trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, bedding plants and bulbs. Planting up containers. Aftercare.

3. PROTECTED GROWING

Seed sowing & pricking out. Soft, semi-ripe, hardwood and root cuttings. Potting up & on. Aftercare.

4.  OUTDOOR PROPAGATION

Seed sowing in situ, thinning out, transplanting, division, layering. Aftercare.

5.  PEST, DISEASE AND WEED CONTROL

Identification of common pests, diseases and disorders. Treatment with appropriate cultural remedies (trainees not to use chemicals – please see Health & Safety Responsibilities).

6.  VEGETABLES AND FRUIT

Planting out, pruning, training, watering & feeding, mulching, cutting back, pinching out, P&D protection. Harvesting.

7.  LAWNS

Mowing, edging, top dressing, spiking, raking, rolling, feeding. Repair or treatment of damaged or diseased areas. Laying/sowing new lawn. Experience with different types of mowers e.g. rotary, cylinder, ride-on.

8.  TREES & SHRUBS

Identification & pruning. Supporting & training climbers & wall shrubs.

9.  HEDGES

Trimming hedges at appropriate time depending on hedge type e.g. flowering, evergreen/deciduous, formal/informal, using secateurs, shears or hedge trimmers as appropriate. Planting a hedge. Elementary design and layout

10.   HERBACEOUS BORDERS

General maintenance, deadheading, staking, cutting back, weeding, fertilising and mulching at appropriate times. Planting or replanting an herbaceous border. Preparing the ground, lifting, dividing, replanting. Identification of common herbaceous plants

11.   OTHER PLANTING SITUATIONS if available

Herb gardens, rock gardens, ponds, conservatories, meadows

12.   TOOLS AND MACHINERY

Use of mowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, leaf blowers/vacuums. Cleaning and maintenance of hand tools and machinery including resetting & sharpening of mower blades.

13.  HEALTH AND SAFETY

Correct handling and lifting of heavy materials. Knowledge of protective clothing & when it should be worn. Safe handling & use of electrical & mechanical equipment & ladders. Understanding safe handling of garden pesticides, herbicides and applicating machinery (see item 5).

Your local Regional Manager will endeavour to place you in a garden as local to you as possible.  However, this is dependant on the availability of gardens in your area so distances can vary.

You can take the time off that you have accrued at a mutually agreed time with the garden owner/head gardener.  This is paid at the current NLW rate.

  • Your details are passed to the Regional Manager for your area.
  • You will receive a phone call to discuss the scheme, how it works, what is available in your area etc.
  • When a placement comes available you will receive an interview at the garden. If all parties are happy you have a one month probation period to make sure the scheme is right for you.
  • The registration fee of £600 becomes payable when your placement is confirmed.

The administration fee will need to be paid after you have been accepted into a specific garden.  It is not paid on joining the WFGA or applying for the WRAGS scheme.

All training establishments charge for their services. This Scheme does not qualify for government funding as it is designed for mature students learning practical skills. The fees charged cover the costs of sourcing gardens, setting up placements and monitoring the training year with garden visits by locally based WRAGS Regional Managers, and office support from the staff in Cirencester.

Our training scheme offers the opportunity to all who want to gain the confidence to consider a career in horticulture, however you do need to have some existing gardening knowledge e.g. acquired from your own/family garden or allotment, otherwise it will be difficult to make the most of your placement.

There are a limited number of placements available. Please note that joining WFGA does not necessarily guarantee you a WRAGS training place.

Placements are subject to interview and waiting times vary throughout the country – sometimes you can be offered an interview at a garden almost immediately after registering – sometimes it can be some months and occasionally longer.

In the larger cities – especially London – there are fewer gardens and more people wanting to do the training. In which case be prepared to wait a long time or be prepared to travel out into the country. Whilst you wait you can take full advantage of being a WFGA member and attend the Workshops and Skills Days.

You will be expected to work in all weathers wearing the appropriate footwear and wet weather clothing, as well as using other protective equipment, as required.

There are many horticultural jobs that can be done in bad weather such as cleaning equipment, tidying up sheds and stores etc.

Your head gardener or Garden Owner will let you know if the weather is so bad nothing can be done

The placement should be treated in the same way as paid work & trainees are expected to be reliable & consistent. Clearly a genuine emergency is different.

This is a training scheme – you will be expected to keep notes and file monthly reports to your local Regional Manager – this all takes extra time additional to the time spent in the garden.

Many trainees have transferable skills from their previous roles: you should be self-motivated, enthusiastic, willing to try new challenges and have time management and problem solving abilities and a desire for personal development.

  • It is hoped that all successful trainees keep up their membership of the WFGA.
  • There are workshops and Training Skills day that can be attended  to further  increase skills.
  • Most regions are looking to have some sort of Regional meet up in a garden or just a get together for members to help you network and share ideas.
  • We welcome feedback on the scheme in order that we can continually update and amend where needed.
  • You will be sent a feedback form which we would ask you to complete and return , on line.

The placement of a trainee is for up to 14 hours per week over one year. The decision to offer a placement is made by the Garden Owner and arrangements are established at the time of interview.

Many Garden Owners relate the advantages of having a trainee who is enthusiastic, committed and eager to learn. Prior to the completion of a placement arrangements are started by the Regional Manager for a follow on trainee.

We require only that a garden owner joins WFGA as a member to participate in the scheme.

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