Cardiff apprentices swap Bute Park for the Isle of Bute
Three of Cardiff’s parks apprentices have swapped Bute Park for the Isle of Bute as part of an exchange programme building on the links between the park and Mount Stuart House and Gardens, the ancestral home of the Bute family.

The apprentices will spend a week absorbing knowledge from the horticultural team, who look after what are recognised as some of the finest gardens in Europe, before returning to Cardiff to share their newfound knowledge with the team and continue working towards the qualifications which form part of their training with the council.

Mount Stuart House was originally built in 1719 by the 2nd Earl of Bute. Following a fire in 1877 the property was rebuilt by the 3rd Marquess of Bute using the same team, including William Burges, who had already designed the spectacular neo-gothic Cardiff Castle.

The house, which sits in 300 acres of grounds and is home to what is thought to be the world’s first heated indoor swimming pool, displays many of the astrological and astronomical themes familiar to visitors to Cardiff Castle, but for the apprentices, it’s the gardens that are the real draw.

Speaking before she left, Ginny Head, one of the parks apprentices making their way north, said: “Getting the chance to start working for Cardiff as an apprentice was brilliant, but getting to Mount Stuart as part of that learning, I’m really looking forward to it.

“The gardens up there sound incredible and there’s this long history they’ve got, linked back to the Victorian plant hunters who used to travel all over, looking for exotic plants to bring back.”

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury, said: “Cardiff’s past is intrinsically linked to the Bute family - this exchange is a great way for our apprentices to feed off that history and I’m sure they’ll come back with even more knowledge and enthusiasm for keeping the city’s parks in top condition.”

Beki Marriott, Head Gardener at Mount Stuart, said: “The gardeners will get a great variety from their visit to Mount Stuart, working from the nursery right through to arboriculture. Our team are really established, and we believe in the importance of learning from our peers and sharing knowledge, so we’re all really looking forward to meeting the new Bute Park apprentices.”

Mount Stuart Gardens is home to walled gardens, kitchen gardens, woodlands and wetlands, rock gardens, hot houses and secret gardens – a bit like the one in Cardiff that is now home to Bute Park Nurseries where the apprentices spend many of their days.

Ginny Head, added: “It’s going to be fascinating up there, finding out how they care for the gardens and this huge variety of plants, I can’t wait to get stuck in and then get back here to hopefully make Cardiff’s parks look even better.”