Vacancy: Head Gardener

A wonderful opportunity for an enthusiastic and skilled hands-on Head Gardener to lead an energetic team to manage and maintain the beautiful Mount Stuart gardens on the Isle of Bute.


Mount Stuart’s gardens are set within an estate covering 271 hectares (670 acres), on the Isle of Bute, overlooking the Firth of Clyde. They are of considerable historical significance and contain many features of national and international importance.

Scottish architect Alexander McGill, who designed the first Mount Stuart house, was responsible for the layout of the gardens from 1717. This original design was then adapted and developed as the tastes and horticultural interests of successive generations of the Bute family changed down the centuries.

The horticultural significance of Mount Stuart is also considerable; it’s home to numerous champion trees and plant collections of national and international importance including the arboretum which forms part of the National Tree Collection of Scotland.



The role of the Mount Stuart Head Gardener will suit a skilled, experienced and proactive team leader who enjoys the challenge of realising and maintaining the vision of others.

1. People Management. Responsible for effectively managing and motivating the Gardens team members, creating individual training and development plans, nurturing team spirit and collective ownership of team goals.

2. Planning & Delivery. Lead discussions on development plans for the gardens and landscape, and be responsible for creation of their delivery plans. Produce and execute maintenance plans for all areas of the gardens and wider designed landscape.

3. Safe Place. Ensure the gardens team work in a safe, secure and compliant environment including appropriate use of PPE, and that all garden machinery is serviced and maintained.

4. Environment and Sustainability. Work to deliver sustainable gardening activities, including energy, water, peat and pesticide use in support of the Trust’s Green Tourism goals.

5. Education, Learning and Community. Play an active role in the Trust’s wider learning activities and participate in community events.

6. Finance and Project Management. Setting, phasing, monitoring, pro-active and re-active adjustments of allocated budgets to ensure that the garden’s finances are sustainable within the context of the wider Trust operational budgets.

7. Production Horticulture. Expand production activities in support of the Courtyard Café and monthly markets at Bute Yard.



Excellent plant knowledge and a genuine passion for horticulture are essential, as are excellent time and staff management skills and the willingness to lead by example. A good understanding and ability to use, manage and maintain a wide range of specialist equipment and machinery is an advantage.

1. The successful candidate will hold a suitable formal professional qualification in horticulture/landscape management or equivalent with extensive practical experience in horticultural techniques.

2. Excellent plantsmanship (e.g. the identification, recording, labelling of individual plants and recognised collections; appropriate plant selections) is essential along with the ability to identify a wide range of plants, pests and diseases.

3. Excellent Leadership skills including coaching, mentoring, team development, motivation and communication, and the ability to prioritise tasks and to work under pressure are a must.

4. Competency and self-sufficiency in use of IT (email, internet, word-processing, spreadsheets, databases) are required as are excellent written, verbal, administrative and communication skills.

5. Knowledge of health and safety requirements, processes and procedures is important.

6. Applicants must hold a full UK driving licence.



The current duties of this job will require a Disclosure Scotland PVG check to be carried out.



A generous remuneration package is provided for the successful candidate and includes pension, holiday allowance and private health cover. It is anticipated that the post holder will live on the island so accommodation may be available at a concessionary rent.



If this Head Gardener vacancy is of interest, please apply or contact with a c.v. and covering letter of no more than 2 pages each to Fiona Hardie at


Closing date is Friday 2 August, 2024.

Interviews are planned to take place on Bute in August.

Vacancies > Head Gardener