Inspiring Apprentices - Kyle


The idea of an apprenticeship can have a lot of stigma attached to it, but there are plenty of examples of the great things you can get out of it.

Kyle Rix, Head Gardener at Lincoln College, started as an apprentice!

Photo credit: Kyle Rix, (holding a rather large Tetrapanax leaf)

Kyle knew that whilst degrees are a great thing to have, there are other ways to start your career than University.

After leaving school Kyle gained many great vocational qualifications and had a successful career travelling the world working in the security services industry. He realised that trying different things is important to give you experiences in life and an appreciation for the things that matter, and decided to live once more in his hometown of Oxford which was when he saw the advert for an apprentice gardener at Lincoln College.

Kyle's apprenticeship was estimated at a years duration although he completed it within 3½ months!

Becoming Head Gardener has added to his list of outstanding achievements and allowed him to progress in another industry. Kyle believes that Lincoln College has become his 'home away from home' and he has found his forever job.  

Photo courtesy: Kyle Rix, (Front Quad)

You would think that looking after 14 gardens (including sports grounds), the 150 year old Boston Ivy that needs trimming 4 times a year and the 200 year old London Plain that sheds mountains of fallen leaves each day in autumn, the ancient vines and nurturing the cutting of the 400 year old Mulberry Tree along with keeping the award winning quad lawns impeccable would be quite enough for Kyle and his team.

Photo courtesy: Kyle Rix, (something’s eating the roses)

But Kyle has also already helped the development of the gardens by reducing the use of chemicals by 75% through his research and implemented biological control such as nematodes. He has designed a roof-top garden to supply the college chef with vegetables, herbs and a beehive to sell college honey and introduced a wild meadow in the library quad.  And Kyle’s imagination doesn’t stop there: this term he introduced the newest and youngest member of the college, Blue, a 3 month old Harris Hawk to keep the college’s pigeon problem under control.

Photo courtesy: Kyle Rix, (beautiful Blue, newest member of college, ready to get to work)

Photo courtesy: Kyle Rix (with Head Chef Richard and organic veg grown in the college gardens)

Kyle said about Apprenticeships: "So many young people are pressured to go to university, but working in an Oxford college is about bettering people, including the staff, it’s not just about academia. Lincoln College is like family"

Kyle’s past careers have all contributed to where he is today. He is involved in all aspects of college life, and he sees the gardens as being incorporated into the whole life of the college. His previous motor mechanical apprenticeship means he can look after all the mowers and machinery, and he has experience in catering which gives him an understanding of what the chef needs from the garden. Volunteer experience in welfare has provided him with an understanding to create gardens that provide cultural therapy for students and staff.

Photo courtesy: Kyle Rix (Rectors garden, digger fun)

Photo courtesy: Kyle Rix (that looks very high up)

Kyle will always have an apprentice or two in his team and says “horticulture is such a large job, you are constantly learning, you can never learn it all, but an apprenticeship gives you the base of direction.”

We asked Kyle what his top tip would be for anyone considering an apprenticeship.  “Show your own genuine interest. You have got to be interested. It’s hard physical work, sometimes damp and miserable, but very rewarding. Constantly working against nature but it makes you humble as an individual.”

Check out more of Kyle’s amazing photos on Instagram @LincolnCollegeGardens

If anyone is interested in gaining a fantastic job just like Kyle then please find more information on our website at

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Created by Sophie Bebb, University of Oxford Apprentice at the Said Business School.

Managed by Frances Murray, Apprentice Librarian Assistant at the Bodleian Libraries, and Megan Janes, Apprenticeship Administration and Communications Apprentice.