What it’s like to be a… Horticultural supervisor

Simone Jacobs walks us through her role at the University of Bristol

Simone Jacobs has been the horticultural supervisor for gardens and grounds at the University of Bristol for 12 years. She oversees the work carried out by horticultural teams across the university’s landscapes as well as managing engagement projects with students and some outreach events held in the university gardens.


What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

My connection to the landscape, the people I work with who care for it and my love of being outdoors and enjoying the weather of the day – whatever that may be.

What is the first thing you do when you get into work?

I’m on a different site each day, so a quick check of my emails and calendar on my phone, a sneaky insta post to @unibrisgardens if there’s time, and a team brief to catch up on the past week and the week ahead. 

Who are the two to three people that you talk to every day?

Kevin, the horticultural manager, to stay up to date with operational news. Gareth, my mobile team leader, to organise any pickups and deliveries, and the Royal Fort hort team, to keep in touch with the green heart of the campus.

What is the best thing about your job?

Being in a role that showcases the university’s gardens and one that unifies people and nature in a proactive way.

What is your biggest challenge or gripe?

Like most people, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Gripes are people who don’t embrace synergy and the lack of accessible outdoor taps in gardens in the UK. 

How did you get into your job?

I’ve been a gardener since early childhood and after studying horticultural business at university this is one of the many chapters of my horticultural life. 

What is it about your personality that makes you suitable for your role?

I’m a good communicator, creative, determined, good problem-solver and passionate about what I do.

Which five words sum up your typical day?

Site visits, meadows, fresh air, nature and walking. 

If you weren’t in this role, what would you be?

I’d be an organic flower farmer surrounded by beautiful cut flowers [sighs]. That’s forgetting about the 5am starts, 14-hour days, no holidays and wasp stings!