Need Help Finding an Estate Gardener

jftrail65March 26, 2006

Hello - And thanks in advance for any input.

I am an estate manager for a large private estate here on Long Island, New York. My employer relocated me from Texas recently and I am having difficulty finding a well qualified professional gardener.

I have been in professional household management for 20 years. My entry position was as head gardener on a formal estate as well, so I am fairly certain of what I am looking for.

I am using the usual recruitment tools of classifieds, internet job sites, and the top household staffing agencies here on the east coast. That has netted the quantity of applicants, but definetly not the quality. If I were staffing a landscape installation company or turf maintenance service - I wouldn't have to be working this entire weekend:~) Results from 7 household staffing agencies is more bleek. Two agencies currently have no available candidates; from the remaining five agencies - one applicant has been presented 3 seperate times. Our position is still on their books, but I am left with the impression that I should start looking elsewhere.

Private estate gardening is a niche profession to begin with; coupled with my limited sourcing and networking ability here - I can't seem to "reach" the folks I would like to talk to.

In researching this forum, some previous posts make note of some well founded "cons" of private gardening, and indeed household management here in the east does seem to suffer from a predisposed idea of "Buy-1-Get-2 Free" approach to staff. If any one has any direct experience as an estate gardener in this region, I would welcome your comments in particular. This is a great position - Could I be presenting it wrong for this region??

If anyone could offer other suggestions or comments, I would sincerely appreciate your input.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I've seen ads in 'Horticulture' magazine and trade publications in the past.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 12:43AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Colleges, universities and institutes often have job boards that attract experienced people in addition to recent graduates. I'm putting the link to the Stockbridge School (University of Massachusetts' landscape-horticulture-ag program) so you get an idea of the types of jobs listed, and how the employers write them. You might find it to be helpful.

As an aside, I have noted several local ads seeking estate gardeners, but was turned off by them because they were written in a condescending way -- They wanted a gardener who was knowledgeable in all aspects of horticulture, greenhouse management, koi pond care, floral and indoor plant arrangement and a number of other arts-crafts-skills, but then ended the ad with "Must work quickly and be able to follow orders." If they had put that first, no respectable gardener-horticulturist would have finished reading the ad.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stockbridge School Job Board

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 9:43AM
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heptacodium

I feel for you, really I do. Finding good help of any kind is hard, and even more so when you more precisely what you want within a highly specialized field.

As far as where to seek applicants, I might try cointacting the American Association of Botanic Garden and Arboretea and trying to place an ad in their monthly newsletter.

As far as internet job boards, hortjobs (.com) seems to be as good as anything else I've found.

Don't overlook the local schools with horticulture programs. Most of these people are not necessarily estate gardener types, but it costs only a stamp or an email to contact them, and they'll keep the job posted until you tell them to take it down.

Otherwise, perhaps it may be time to relax your expectations and allow yourself to be surprised by someone whom you ordinarily wouldn't expect. Never words you want to hear as an employer, but sometimes, you settle for a warm body, provide some direction, and allow them the change to fall. As long as they fall on their face, they are going in the right direction.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 11:01AM
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lazy_gardens

If I were looking for a good photogrpaher, I['d ask the custom developing labs.

If you are looking for gardeners, start asking specialty nurseries for names.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 4:51PM
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lmw845(z5 NY)

you might post on metrohort.org. mostly for nyc garden/landscape pros, i've seen listings for old westbury gardens and planting fields arboretum listed here before. good luck.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 6:28PM
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Flowerchild(z5NY Col.Cnty.)

I'm an Estate Gardener. When I was looking for a job I would avoid ads that were geared toward yard maintenance as that is not where my experience lies. I am strictly a gardener. I leave the mowing, shrub pruning, lawn raking and such to the 'yard care' team (which is actually the caretaker and his assistant) This arrangement seems to work perfectly for us because he doesn't have the patience nor the knowledge to take care of the small particulars in keeping a garden beautiful and healthy. Since I have had this position I have had several people ask me how they could find jobs like mine. They are usually 40+ females that are experienced, dependable and eager to work. I think this is the best source of employees for a gardener.

I also have found that most employers want someone that can 'do it all'. They have to realize that a person may try to do it all but in trying to accomplish this the quality of work may be lost.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 9:22AM
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dabprop(z6 PA)

I agree with with flowerchild. As a professional gardener I also do not respond to "do it all" ads.
I would also ask the local university extention service about the Master Gardeners group in that area.They usually have a newsletter and perhaps you can place an ad in it or ask their office personel.
Jackie

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 9:15AM
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miss_rumphius_rules(z6 NJ)

NYBG School of Professional Horticulture job board.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 9:09PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

flowerchild said the "40+ females that are experienced, dependable and eager to work" are "the best source of employees for a gardener. " I agree, yet whenever I have come across local ads for estate gardeners, they say something like "must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds," or 75 pounds, and one I saw yesterday specified 100 pounds. Now, a lot of these 40+ women weigh only 120 pounds, and (even though some lift weights) it seems unreasonable to ask them to carry 40 to 80 percent of their weight as a regular job requirement. Furthermore, experienced gardeners can move lots of material efficiently without having to lift and carry, and without injuring themselves.

So, along with the phrase cady mentioned, "Must work quickly and be able to follow orders," the ad itself can weed out most of the people who might be the best fit for the job, assuming the job values knowledge, experience, foresight, and planning over brawn and blind obedience.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 3:57PM
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theiceman(9)

Go to domestic employment agency. This is where I got my best estate job as an employee. I am soon going to get back into my private estate work again sence getting laid off at the state college I was working at. My 15 years as a landscape specialist at Disney World,gets me anything I'm looking for in the field. If you were in the orlando area I would say lets get together and talk, but some like it cold and some like it hot and I love my tropical landscaping here. I used to live in NY. and moved here in 1981 and have been enjoying it ever sence.
Good luck in your search, I know you'll find someone!

theorlandogardener@yahoo.com

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 1:57PM
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steve1young(7A)

While you most likely have filled this position since your posting, I would still be very interested in finding out if the person you have hired has adequately filled the position.

I am an experienced Estate Gardener on Long Island and after spending a number of exciting/educational years as a Landscape and Garden Designer, I am once again interested in pursuing a career as an Estate Gardener. I've thoroughly enjoyed these past years of creating beautiful landscapes and gardens, but of the two processes (creating and maintaining), I've learned that I enjoy the maintenance and maturation process more.

Additionally, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate an Estate Management position with Estate Gardener Supervisory responsiblities.

steve1young@yahoo.com

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 8:53PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Try clicking on 'My Page', where you can e-mail them directly.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 9:49PM
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