Horticulturalist — Simon Thompson

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I liked Geography and Chemistry best in Year 12, and hoped to do planning and architecture at university. However, I settled for a Bachelor of Science (Horticulture) at Burnley College (part of the University of Melbourne), which had been my second preference.

The course was enjoyable. There was a balance between theory (photosynthesis, plant science and so on) and practical work (pruning, grafting, planting and so on). I always enjoyed the practical work more than the theory. Sometimes the ideas side was a bit harder to grasp.

As I went about my day while doing my course, I would often ask local nurseries about part-time jobs. This was quite effective. By the time I had graduated, I had two and a half years' of part-time work behind me. It gave me an income, helped me to learn about the workplace, and sometimes complemented my coursework.

After I graduated, I was able to obtain a job managing The Garden of Eden, a small nursery in Albert Park. My major tasks were plant maintenance and weekend sales. I had plenty of independence, with some responsibilities, but it was a bit too small for me to learn much. I left there a year ago, and since then I've had a few part-time and casual jobs in other nurseries. There's a kind of pattern to the retail nursery industry. Spring and autumn are busy; summer and winter are quieter. Employment levels seem to rise and fall with the seasons.

I'm feeling my way at the moment. It's easy enough to find work, and at 23 I don't want the hassles of running my own business. I think I'd like to travel overseas and see how things work elsewhere.

I have always had a keen interest in plants, and this helps me with my work. It's easier to be keen when you're interested in what you are doing. Maybe one day I'll be ready to start my own business—but not just yet.