pro landscaper magazine
pro landscaper magazine

The women rising through the ranks in nature-based professions

by | 08 Mar 24 | Garden Design, Landscape Architecture, Long Reads

International Women’s Day serves as a platform to recognise the significant contributions being made by women across the nature-based sectors, which have historically been male-dominated.

Whilst celebrating the strides being made to improve equality and inclusivity, in an effort to create a more welcoming sector that encourages more newcomers into the ranks.

In honour of this, Pro Landscaper wishes to shine a light on several of the women rising through the ranks across the sector, and who better than its very own 30 Under 30 class of 2023.


Ashleigh Aylett

Landscape designer at Erlam Studio + John Davies Landscapes


With a philosophy revolving around the principle that design should be approached from the inside out, Ashleigh Aylett started by studying interior design, winning New Designer of the Year. But after five years, her fascination with nature in gardens and landscapes became increasingly clear, so she decided to pursue this underlying passion as a career.

Aylett achieved her RHS Level 2 qualifications and became a member of the team at Emily Erlam and John Davies’ collaborative London studio. She is also actively involved in a community woodland garden in Bedfordshire and is hoping to inspire and nurture others to choose a career path in horticulture.


Charlotte Cole

MacRobert Trust’s horticultural trainee


At just 19 years old, Charlotte Cole already has a lot to be proud of. They began their career hoarding houseplants in their early teens, going on to become co-presenter of the podcast, For the Love of Plants and a member of the Young People in Horticulture Association. Up until recently, Cole was a seasonal gardener for Exbury Gardens and a private gardener.

They moved to Scotland in September to become a trainee gardener with the renowned MacRobert Trust before undertaking sustainable agroforestry in Brazil, where they hope to develop the food forest and learn about Brazilian flora and management. Cole has numerous ambitions, all of which equate to supporting and promoting the preservation and appreciation of plants and landscaping, which Cole says has brought them so much joy.


Abi Fairbrother

Accounts manager at Palmer Landscapes


A passion for numbers and an appreciation of the natural world drew Abi Fairbrother to join a landscaping company as its office manager. The prospect of working in an industry that contributes to creating and maintaining beautiful outdoor spaces resonated with her values and has brought a sense of fulfilment that went beyond the routine tasks of accounting and administration.

Fairbrother plans to leave a lasting mark on the sector with a people-centred approach and a focus on sustainability. She has played a crucial role in developing and implementing a sustainable purchasing policy at Palmer Landscapes and aims to become known for championing sustainable practices within the landscaping community.


Rebecca Fryer

Contracts manager at Nurture Landscapes


As the youngest female contracts manager at Nurture Landscapes, Rebecca Fryer manages a team of 25 grounds maintenance staff across a wide portfolio of static sites. Fryer joined the grounds maintenance industry in her early 20s, progressing from administrator to a more practical role where she was able to gain hands-on experience and an appreciation of the work she was carrying out.

She took a five-year break from the industry, but her passion brought her back and she joined Nurture Landscapes in 2021. Fryer is building her skills to progress to a leadership position and would love to encourage other women into operational based roles.


Emma Hindle

Business Development Manager at Ground Control


From suggesting small improvements for playgrounds to working on major, multi-million-pound solar farm and renewable energy schemes, Emma Hindle thrives on the diversity of her role. She’s an advocate for a nature-first approach and has developed new techniques as well as a newfound confidence since being enrolled in the Ground Control Academy’s management course this year.

Hindle hopes to become a thought leader in landscaping and to encourage more women to join the construction sector by showcasing the opportunities available and mentoring those who require support. She also plans to progress to a management or senior leadership role. “Wider representation of women in senior roles is only a positive thing for the industry and I will relish the opportunity to learn and develop into such a role.”


Annabelle Hodd

Owner and senior designer at Ivy and Whyte


Since joining the landscape industry, Annabelle Hodd says she has gained a new appreciation for the world in which we live and for those who help to build and sustain it. She was previously an architectural designer, and though her transition to landscape design was challenging, Annabelle says there is no better feeling than helping someone to fall in love with their garden and nature.

She joined Ivy & Whyte two years ago before setting up her own franchise of the company last year, going from part-time assistant to owner in a short space of time. Hodd believes that a career in this industry is not just a job; it is a path towards empowering individuals and addressing global challenges.


Sophie Lockhart

Consultant Landscape Architect at WSP


Having always had a passion for the great outdoors, Sophie Lockhart saw landscape architecture as an opportunity to enhance, protect and adapt landscapes for an uncertain future, with a goal of becoming a leading voice in an industry that has the potential to bring about a real and positive change.

Hoping to better respond to the growing challenges associated with climate change, Lockhart believes that “there has never been a better, nor more important time to change the way in which we view our landscape.” She graduated with a distinction in landscape architecture and says she has a passion for the natural environment as a positive driver for change.


Elsa Melrose

Horticulturist at Harry Holding Studios


Growing up in London, where nature and wildlife were not easily accessible, Elsa Melrose developed a strong interest in the relationship between people and the natural world, discovering the power to transform ordinary spaces into thriving ecosystems.

Starting within a family-run nursery before obtaining a Level 2 Professional Gardener qualification, Melrose aspires to leave an indelible mark – a legacy of rekindled harmony between urban landscapes and the natural environment. She hopes to establish and run her own nursery that goes beyond plants and propagation but also serves as an educational hub for those who don’t have direct access to gardens and greenery.


Helen Stickling

Arboricultural support officer at the London Borough of Bromley


From a graduate intern for the environment services, Helen Stickling became a business support officer where she identified a passion and interest with the tree team. Going on to work closely with arboricultural services, Stickling has been progressing in arboriculture ever since.

Now working as the arboricultural support officer, Stickling is concentrating on how climate increases may cause a struggle for survival amongst native tree species. For the upcoming tree planting season, Stickling compiled her knowledge from various seminars to produce a list of tree species which are predicted to survive in future climates in the hopes that this forethought will have a positive impact for decades to come.


Georgina Stretch

Chartered landscaping architect


As a chartered landscape architect, Georgia Stretch admires the quality of custodianship achieved throughout the Royal Parks she works within and aspires to become part of its design and management history. Her passion for the industry is reflected in her academic and professional achievements, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and professional chartership successes.

Working across 13 of The Royal Parks, having focused on Richmond and Bushy Parks working on a post-covid restoration project, Strech finds it deeply unsettling how we’ve consistently witnessed the degradation of our natural world, both in terms of its quality and quantity, and is now working hard to restore our landscapes.


Emma Tipping

Horticulturist and garden designer at Emma Tamsin Tipping Garden Design


Credit Tim Howell

Emma Tipping studied Cultural Geography at university which was the beginning of her love of landscape design. She is fascinated by the geographies of spaces and how the designs impact on how we feel and behave. With real-life experience, Tipping learnt the art of propagating, border planting, and maintenance, using different machinery and working in the kitchen garden which helped her to learn quickly and continues to inform her designs.

She won a Silver medal in the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition at Tatton Park 2022 which led to the highlight of her career so far – winning a gold at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023.



Penny Walker

Junior landscape architect at Ann-Marie Powell Gardens


After spending hours designing gardens as a child, for Penny Walker, there was a clear and determined career path. She chose her GCSEs and A-Levels with landscape architecture in mind and has been given more and more responsibility within her role at Ann-Marie Powell Gardens, which she feels is allowing her to progress in her career whilst learning new things every day.

With delegated jobs from the senior landscape architect and senior garden designer, Walker could spend weeks drafting construction details, then the next moment will be generating planting schedules. Walker hopes to progress further and grow into a knowledgeable and well-rounded employee.


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