If you like gardening, and want some inspiration to sort out a scruffy flower bed, re-landscape part of the garden, or maybe go green and start a vegetable patch, then why not do a gardening course?
The RHS has the largest number of courses, from one off workshops and day courses to longer courses that result in an NVQ or City & Guilds diploma, or professional certificates in horticulture. Your local Adult Education Centre will also offer courses or you could sign up for a distance learning program. If you are planning to have some major work done it can be advantageous to attend a course first, so that you can more effectively brief and challenge the suggestions of your landscaper. Winter is be a good time to sign up – it’s a time when you really don’t want to be out in the garden, so a perfect time for planning.
Here are some ideas of what is available:
- The Royal Horticultural Society The RHS offer a range of short courses, demonstrations and workshops at the RHS centres, at approved centres round the country and at Adult Education Centres. They cover a wide spread of courses covering such topics as basic vegetable growing, pruning and willow weaving as well as taking subjects to examination certificate level.
- The BBC has a useful website that lists gardening courses by area.
- The Cotswold Gardening School offers gardening and garden design courses in Gloucestershire. Their courses range from morning classes, day courses and longer courses, up to the ten week professional garden design diploma. They also offer very popular Christmas wreath making workshops.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens run courses for a day, a term or you can study throughout the year for a diploma. Courses and lectures are run at:
- London’s Chelsea Physic Garden is the home of the English Gardening School which offers courses ranging from trees, garden lighting and vegetables, to courses on botanical drawing.
- The Horticultural Correspondence College offers a variety of correspondence courses and will send you a sample lesson of your chosen course for £5 before you commit.
- West Dean College (West Sussex) offers a wide range of acclaimed courses so you could learn about growing plants in the shade, how to grow a cutting garden as well as organic vegetable growing and many more.
- River Cottage (Axminster, Devon) Hugh Fernley-Whittinstall’s team offer practical core garden courses on growing vegetable and an enticing array of day and evening courses on such topics as bread (including gluten free), summer& winter preserving, chickens, lamb, beef, and herbal hedgerows. These cost about £140. They also offer online courses for £20 which you can buy as a gift.
- Coton Manor (Coton Northamptonshire) Offers a series of day courses at about £60/day on a wide range of core garden topics – borders, perennials, pots, herbaceous plants, bulbs etc
- Charles Dowding (Shepton Montague, Som.) Classes at £75 are on organic vegetable growing, weeds, composting, growing fruit and even a course on slugs!
- Arne Maynard Garden Design (Usk.Mon) A Chelsea Gold Winner offering practical & useful courses on kitchen gardens, vegetables, early and late summer gardening and Christmas wreaths. The courses are more expensive but are a full 8 hours plus lunch.
- Hornbrook Manor Farm (nr. Tenterden, Kent) Workshop classes are small and friendly and offer practical gardening skills.
It is worth enquiring at major garden centres in your area too, as some will be registered with the RHS for courses. Most large centres will also offer seasonal talks and demonstrations, and don’t forget Adult Education Centres and local colleges.