In 2006 the education team at RBGE decided to develop a new training programme covering essential skills for horticulture. They wanted to give amateur and professional horticulturalists of all ages the opportunity to develop their practical skills and work towards a formal qualification.
“We’d looked around for a formal training programme that we could offer to people, but found that the existing courses were mostly theoretical. There was a clear opportunity to create a new course for people who just wanted a solid grounding in the key practical skills,” explains Leigh Morris, Head of Education at RBGE.
Developing the course
The Certificate in Practical Horticulture involves eight days of teaching plus a day of revision and a full-day practical assessment. The topics covered include soil care, propagation and planting, pruning, training, feeding and watering. “Our course tutors are all experienced and enthusiastic horticulturalists,” says programme co-ordinator Laura Cohen. “They always explain the theory behind different techniques, but students spend most of the time getting their hands dirty.”
Following the success of the course in Edinburgh, RBGE has formed teaching partnerships with organisations in the UK and overseas, and works with its partners to make sure that high quality is maintained wherever the course is delivered. The course is already being taught at the Eden Project in Cornwall and in botanic gardens as far afield as Turkey and Oman. The RBGE’s vision is for the Certificate in Practical Horticulture to become the first choice of practical training short-course for horticulture students and institutions internationally.