A career in the landscape

Sam studied Uniformed Public services at college, with a view to joining the Police when he left.  However, at just 18, he was told he’d need more life experience before he would be considered.  Looking around for ways to get that experience, he found an apprenticeship here at Hambrooks. In the ten years since then, Sam has realised that perhaps this was what he was meant to do all along.  He tells us his story.

“Initially I felt a bit lost when my ‘plan A’ didn’t happen but I’d heard about apprenticeships and thought one of those would suit me instead.  I wanted to find a career I could learn in, so that mixture of working and learning felt right.  I had heard of Hambrooks – a friend’s Dad worked there – and I knew they’d been around a while, so they seemed like a good company to consider.

“I joined their Garden Maintenance team and started on a Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeship through Sparsholt College, the specialist agricultural college near here.  I really enjoyed working in the outdoors and maintenance was a great way to learn from the other guys in the team.  After about six months, they needed people in the Hambrooks Landscaping team, so I shifted to building gardens, rather than maintaining them. Throughout my apprenticeship, it was great to be able to see what I was learning about at college being applied day-to-day in my job.

“Hambrooks kept me on when I completed the apprenticeship and I worked as an improver alongside my colleague Wayne.  We got to work on all sorts of gardens, from smaller installs, like adding a pond, to whole gardens, worth thousands of pounds.  After a couple of years, when I was about 23, I was promoted to team leader, so I was leading on some of those projects myself. 

“With all my hands-on experience, I was learning a lot about what makes a ‘good’ garden, about how the hard landscaping (like patios) works around the soft landscaping (the plants), and I really enjoyed seeing the transformation that we could make to people’s lives.  So when an opportunity came to transfer to the garden design team, I didn’t hesitate!  I started as a designer/estimator on a part-time basis, as we still needed people on the building side too, but it became a full-time role after about a year.

“Now, my typical week is a great mixture of tasks.  Mondays to Thursdays, I will work on new designs, pulling together the plans and cost estimates, and I will often go out to see my designs that are being built.  I love that I am there for our customers right through the process, from the initial discussions about what they want to seeing the job finished.  (I haven’t had anyone burst into tears like they do on those TV garden makeover shows but I have had people give me a hug, they’ve been so pleased!).  Fridays is the day that I will go out to visit potential new customers, with the business owner Norman, to talk about what they want.

“My apprenticeship was definitely a brilliant grounding for being a designer as I think it helps me design better, knowing how a garden will be built.  With support from my colleagues, I learnt how to use Keyscape and CAD design, so we can produce plans on computer. I have also had other learning opportunities here, from going on a course to learn about wildflower turf to getting my 7½ tonne lorry driving licence!  We are recruiting apprentices at the moment so I love being the proof to them of what can be achieved: I’m now a manager, winning jobs for the business worth £90k or more.

“For anyone considering a career in this kind of job, I would say go for it.  For me, the opportunity to meet so many people is probably what I’ve enjoyed the most, from colleagues to customers to suppliers at some of the big trade shows.  It can also be a very outdoors job of course but, for every wet day, there is a lovely sunny one to make up for it!  You’ll also learn lots of practical skills that can be really useful in life. I think gardening is helping to give back and make the world a greener place.”

Sam’s interview was also published in careers magazine “Make the Future Yours”  in the summer of 2022.

Read more about what Sam has been up to at Hambrooks here:
Supporting local charity Open Sight and getting to meet a very special visitor
Supporting our local Coastguard station
Learning about wildflower turf
Working on a new build house backgarden makeover




N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”