A college near Ilkeston has appointed a new head gardener to support students and work on opening the grounds to more visitors.
Samantha Harvey, 43, was a horticulture student at the Derby College Broomfield Hall land-based studies campus in Morley 15 years ago and has now made her return.
She spent a year as part of her course at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and then trained and worked at the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens on the prestigious Kew Diploma, where she won several awards for her endeavours.
Samantha then worked as as head gardener on private estates in Yorkshire and Warwickshire and also volunteered at the Botanic Garden in Belize where she managed the Orchid nursery and trained staff in care of the delicate plants.
She said: “It is wonderful to be back at Broomfield Hall where I started my career in horticulture.
“As head gardener, I will be using my experience at Kew and the private estates to re-establish and expand the borders and shrubs in key parts of the grounds, including the walled gardens.
“This will provide horticulture students with valuable work experience for their future careers and also create a wonderful visitor attraction.
“As the work progresses, we aim to open the grounds more frequently and welcome people to tour the picturesque grounds and learn more about the different trees, shrubs and plants that we have here.
“The workload is extensive and we are currently recruiting volunteers from the local community to help us in this work.
“We have already had interest from people including keen gardeners, some who have retired and others who are keen to progress into the industry.
“Moving forward, we will be growing an even wider range of plants which will then be sold in our re-opened plant centre at Broomfield and also growing flowers for use by the floristry department on site.”
Head of college at Broomfield Hall, Eileen Swan, said: “This is the first time for many years that we have had a head gardener in post.
“Samantha comes to us with a huge amount of experience and she has had a wide and varied career since originally coming to us as a mature student.
“Her knowledge, experience and passion for horticulture will be invaluable to inspire our students as they plan their future careers and she will also take the lead in ensuring that Broomfield Hall is a wonderful visitor attraction for gardening enthusiasts.”