Horticultural consultants are people who sell advice.  There are many different types of horticultural consultants.

  • Some provide broad based advice – they will go to any garden, farm or horticultural enterprise and advise on how to better grow the plants, or how to solve a problem that is facing the property.
  • Some provide advice within just one sector of the horticulture industry – they may focus on plant nurseries, trees, turf, soils, home gardens, hydroponic farms or something else.

Consultants need broad based horticultural knowledge, usually to a diploma or degree level (3 years of full time study), combined with several years of hands on experience. Most consultants would work in industry for 10 years or more after their initial studies. They build their expertise, and develop a strong network of contacts which can be invaluable later on, both for getting work, and for solving problems.

While some consultants may work in a small team with other experts, more often than not they will be sole operators who need to be good communicators, capable of effective time and financial management, and able to market themself effectively.

Consultants can earn a relatively high hourly rate - but in order to achieve a high income and constant cash flow they need to obtain sufficient, consistent work from clients. Some consultants achieve this by building a group of regular clients who arrange routine visits, while others simply build an exceptional reputation where they have a long waiting list of clients.

While technical expertise is an important requirement for any consultant, the most successful consultant is sometimes a person who is a better communicator and less of an expert, than more of an expert and a poor communicator.

Who Employs Consultants?

Horticultural experts are increasingly in demand by individual property owners, through to both private businesses and public authorities.

Individuals

An individual may appoint the consultant to visit their property so that they can offer advice about a particular problem which is affecting a plant or group of plants in their garden. Horticultural consultants advise on garden design and renovation; routine maintenance, tree and turf issues, or any other issue of concern.

Government Agencies and Departments

Government agencies and departments may also use consultants. They will tend to engage an expert for jobs that do not warrant a permanent employee, such as major development projects (eg. building a new sporting facility), or dealing with a significant pest and disease problem.

Small Companies

Small companies may also make use of horticultural consultants. This can be a cost effective way of gaining expert advice without having to permanently employ a specialist. For example, a small company may employ a consultant to manage the installation of a green wall in their office, or landscape a car park.

Large Corporations

Some consultants may be employed by larger corporations to be available to provide their expertise to a wide range of individuals or groups employed by that organisation. Property developers, mining companies, hotel resorts and other such businesses which are heavily involved in land management, will always need horticultural expertise. Some horticultural consultants establish a clientele with such companies at a level that guarantees strong and reliable income.

 

CONSULTANCY OFFSHOOTS

Sometimes being a consultant can lead to other work opportunities associated with consulting.  

Interim Managers
Sometimes businesses and agencies may need to appoint a manager on a temporary basis. Often this is in a higher management role such as an executive,and may be regarded as somewhere between a manager and a consultant. 

Project Managers
When a consultant becomes involved in the early stages of a project (eg. by doing a feasibility study), they may sometimes be an attractive candidate to manage the project in future. Familiarity with the project specifics is a distinct advantage, and if they have broader skills needed for the task at hand, they may be an obvious candidate.

Expert Witnesses
Anyone with expert knowledge in horticulture may act as an expert witness in court. Over recent years there has been a trend towards establishing registries of expert witnesses who are willing to make themselves available to provide information in court cases.    

Trainers, Researchers, Writers
Working as a consultant involves delivering advice or information that is deficient in an organisation. Providing teaching services to deliver that information or advice, undertaking further research into a horticultural subject, or writing about it can all, at times,  be a natural progression for the consultant. 
 

 
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