Young horticulturists are being encouraged to apply for support from Merlin Trust, a charity that gives grants for travel to see plants in the wild and in cultivation throughout the world.
While the Trust accepts applications throughout the year on a rolling basis, in the coming year it is also collaborating with the Alpine Garden Society (AGS) and Munich Botanic Gardens to provide structured opportunities for early career gardeners.
Merlin Trust has worked with the Alpine Garden Society since the turn of the Millennium to offer jointly funded places on their botanical tours. In 2017, two places will be offered on the AGS tour to Romania in June-July, which will be led by Razvan Chisu. Click here to go tio AGS tours page.
Merlin Trust is also collaborating with Munich Botanic Garden to offer the first annual funded work placement in Munich’s Alpine horticulture team. It will be for 2 to 3 weeks between June and August 2017. The successful applicant will work alongside alpine specialists both in the Botanic Garden in Munich and in its satellite high altitude garden in the Bavarian Alps. The placement is designed to offer experience in this specialist field of horticulture as well as being a great opportunity to see alpine flora in its natural setting. The renowned alpine collection – more than 3,000 species from every continent – is displayed in Munich’s Alpine House, in its 100-year-old Rock Garden and in the 115-year-old Schachengarten at 1,800m above sea level. Accommodation will be arranged by the Botanic Garden and there is no requirement to speak German as there are English-speakers in the team.
In 2014/15 Merlin Trust awarded 35 grants to horticulturists, who undertook a wide range of fieldwork and garden visits, from New Zealand to NE USA. Each recipient submits a report to the Trust as a condition of their award. In 2015/16 the £500 prize for best report went to Robert Burstow (PGG Trainee) who travelled to the Algarve with the Mediterranean Gardening Association Portugal. The £500 prize for best photography went to John Cookson (RHS Wisley Diploma Student) who travelled to the USA for a study tour of the gardens of Philadelphia and New York.
To be eligible for support, applicants must be under 35 years old or in the first five years of their career in horticulture. Once they receive their award they are known as ‘Merlins’.
The new Secretary to the Trust is a Merlin: Sarah Carlton, who took over as Secretary in June 2016 and works at RHS Wisley as a Horticulturist in the Alpine Team, travelled to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, in Yunnan, China in 2011 with support from the Trust.