Like gardens themselves, often a gardener needs a little nourishment before their real talent blooms into life. Whether you’re an experienced gardener interested in learning something new or a complete novice who just wants to know where to begin, there are options out there for everyone.
Wisley Gardens in Surrey (rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley) have myriad options for all skill sets, interests and levels of expertise with courses and tutorials covering everything from photosynthesis to botanical cocktails. These courses are often run by the RHS team but others feature guests and experts such as the gardens’ curator, Matthew Pottage, and renowned plantsman Noel Kingsbury. Claire Brown will also be tutoring on The Perpetual Herb Garden in October, and runs talks and workshops herself through her business, Plant Passion (plantpassion.co.uk), which focuses on locally grown flowers. This is a great option for those who love local and are interested in arranging bouquets for their homes or as gifts to others.
Meanwhile, Kew Gardens (kew.org) and Painshill in Surrey (painshill.co.uk) both have a number of courses and lectures which you may find helpful if you’re interested in capturing the beauty of the garden in photography or illustration, as well as their courses on gardening itself.
Jo Arnell’s comprehensive year long course at Hornbook Manor in Woodchurch, Kent (pictured) (hornbrookmanor.co.uk), is run in small, informal groups, so there’s plenty of chances to ask Jo any questions you may have over some homemade cake. The course lasts a full year but you can also book an individual course if there’s a particular field you’re interested in.
Godinton House is also well worth a visit, as they run gardening events throughout the year (gardeningworkshops.co.uk/godintonhouse.co.uk). You may have noticed in our own April Notebook that they are holding a topiary workshop this month, but there is more to learn with head gardener Viv Hunt, who has combined forces with professional gardener Fiona Abrahams in monthly workshops since November.
For the foodies of the Weald there are some invaluable learning opportunities at Brogdale Collections (brogdalecollections.org). As the home of the national fruit collection, there are few better places than Brogdale to learn about fruit, food and foraging in the British countryside, with courses on grafting, pruning, orchard design or cider making, to name a few.
One last tutor worth a try is Steve Edney, who is head gardener at The Salutation in Sandwich (the-salutation.com) and runs classes limited to only eight people. These courses include light lunch and refreshments in their £80 price as well as demonstrations, practical work, tours and invaluable advice.
- words: Rebecca Cuffe
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