Ultimate Apprenticeship – Horticulture (Landscape Gardening)

SkillsOne visits one of this year's Ultimate Apprenticeship Winners, a competition organised by The Institute For Trade Skills Excellence.

We meet Daniel Wheat, who will experience an opportunity of a lifetime, work with professionals and travel overseas to work in a live event, with the Singapore Garden Festival.

We meet Charlie Evans, from UrbanCo, who is competing in the Singapore Garden Festival - competing in the themed "Fantasy" section of the festival.

Daniel and the team show us the steel works and loading the container of plants, equipment and infrastructure for the Singapore display.

About Daniel:

Daniel got an email from an apprenticeship board calling for entries. It was first time he’d heard about the Singapore displays but had a look at the web and it now seems pretty big – celebrity landscape designer Jamie Durie was involved last year.

Daniel hopes to gain more plant knowledge and skills on how to setup a display. When he goes to Singapore he will be able to see plants from all over the world. Daniel finished school 2 years ago and has been studying a Certificate III in Horticulture at Challenger TAFE.

Daniel has enjoyed gardening since he was little, and loves being outdoors. He may move into environmental science or developing mine sites as it is big industry in WA – but no rush, still has two years of his course to go yet! Daniel goes to Singapore in July.

About Charlie:

Urbaneco got involved because they’ve had their apprentices from WPC Group (a co-sponsor of the Ultimate Apprenticeship competition) for a while now.

Charlie also teaches a pre-apprenticeship Cert II course in Horticulture – and likes to help the young people out. He has been in the industry for 17 years - 43 years old now and he still loves it, wakes up every morning and looks forward to it.

Charlie thinks he would be hopeless working in an office as his job holds something new every day. What he does is considered a pastime for people – a hobby. Urbaneco have exhibited in a number of Melbourne shows over the years and won some awards. This made them eligible for the Singapore Garden Competition. Singapore government is providing sponsorship of around 100,000 Singapore dollars to 15 international designers.

Garden shows around the world are the pinnacle for the industry – Melbourne show competes closely with Chelsea, Singapore is trying to get up there, Charlie has been in planning for the competition on and off for 9 – 10 months.

They've sourced plants in November and have been building the structural side since March. He thinks it is going ok, however it has been a bit of a nightmare going overseas – a steep learning curve for him.

Competing with the best in the world and there are always risks in going overseas such customs, quarantine and ship delays may mean plants are dead on arrival.

About UrbanEco:

UrbanEco believe that a garden space should be an oasis from the hustle and bustle of city life and be a place where families can connect.

UrbanEco offers a full design, construction and maintenance service. All of their staff are qualified or moving through the apprenticeship program.

About Benara:

SkillsOne Ultimate Apprenticeship winner Daniel Wheat is getting ready to attend the Singapore Garden Festival in July after playing his part in Australia's entry into the prestigious festival.

Meeting up with UrbanEco's Charlie Evans, Daniel assisted in choosing the plants and flowers that the Australian entry will display and hopefully bring them the gold medal.

Charlie and Daniel spent hours carefully choosing the plants and flowers to showcase Australia's greenery to the rest of the world when entrants from all over the world converge on Singapore to compete.

Daniel is in the 2nd year of his horticulture apprenticeship with the City of Perth and Charlie chose Benara Nursery in the Perth suburb of Carabooda to supply the bulk of their plant material.

Benara are the largest wholesale nursery in The Southern Hemisphere and they have experience in transporting flowers all around the world. “Benara are used to long distance plant freight and quarantine and it is for this reason that we chose them” Charlie said. “It is also important to note that plants can travel from Perth to Singapore in around 10 days where as from Melbourne they would be travelling for at least a month. Benara also organize for their plants to travel in an enviro container with lighting and air con, improving their arrival condition”.

The Singapore Garden Festival:

The Australian display in Singapore will consist mainly of Australian native plants and will include 'Water Gums' and 'Cushion Bushes'.

Australia will contest the “Fantasy” category at the Singapore Garden Festival and Daniel and Charlie will be trying to show off Australian plants in a modern and edgy fashion while using iconic Australian sculptural images to create the wow factor.

SkillsOne wishes Charlie and Daniel all the best with preparation as they vie for gold at the 2008 Singapore Garden Festival!

About Horticulture:

A career in horticulture is one that offers a diverse range of opportunities, from design and planning to business and scientific research.

Many positions combine working outdoors with the application of technical, design, planning, scientific and management skills. The industry attracts a diverse range of people, from school leavers to those seeking a change in career. And there are many different points at which to enter the industry. TAFEs and a number of private registered training organisations offer course in horticulture.