Horticultural courses at Hadlow College

RHS Level II students at Hadlow College's glasshouses

RHS Level II students at Hadlow College's glasshouses - Credit: Archant

The appeal of gardening is not only increasing but so too is the desire to expand knowledge via career and recreational courses

Gardening has always been one of the top recreational choices and the numbers continue to grow. TV gardening programmes enjoy cult status and outside broadcasting from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show attracts millions of viewers from around the world.

One of the most popular local radio programmes is Andy Garland’s Sunday morning gardening slot on BBC Radio Kent – and this year Andy joins the panel headed by award-winning designer and plantsman Roger Platts to help judge the Kent Life Garden of the Year Awards (see page 122).

Membership of gardening clubs has always been popular and is expanding, grower groups are increasing in number and demand for allotments is now so great in some areas that some would-be holders won’t be allocated a plot for years.

Gardeners of all standards, from the professional, through to the passionate spare-time, the gifted amateur and the new recruit, are always keen to learn more.

Kent is fortunate to have one of the UK’s leading land-based colleges at Hadlow, which offers a wide range of career and recreational courses that fulfil most needs. Degree programmes include a BA (Hons) in Garden Design which could be preceded by a Higher National Diploma (HND) in the subject. Hadlow also offers Foundation Degree (FdSc) programmes in Garden Management and Commercial Horticulture with the opportunity to progress to a BSc (Hons) in the latter.

Associated courses include an HND and a BSc (Hons) in Landscape Management (not to be confused with ‘landscaping’) which are accredited by the Landscape Institute.

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The college also offers a range of relevant Further Education programmes including Extended Diploma Level 3, an alternative to the A-level Baccalaureate route to a degree programme.

Hadlow offers a range of RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) courses across the various campuses and they are regarded as a CPD (continual professional development) route for professionals and an excellent way for amateurs to build their knowledge in a structured way.

Not everyone has the need or time for an entire course but many gardeners welcome te chance to attend a specialised short version. The comprehensive choices include Design your own garden, A history of gardens, Grow your own fruit, Grow your own vegetables and salads, Introduction to landscaping features and lawn maintenance, Grow organically, Propagating plants, Gardening for wildlife, Weeds, pests and diseases, Fruit tree pruning and more.

Learning in a group is inspiring and fun; camaraderie develops and life-changing friendships are made. Courses are offered at various centres including Hadlow (the main campus) Canterbury, Mottingham and Medway. Whatever the level being considered, it is important to be able to seek information and advice and talk through the options: this applies to both career-related and recreational courses.

Prospective students need to know that the age range (for all types of courses) is very broad, backgrounds are diverse, different forms of horticulture are popular second-career options – and that it is never too early, nor too late, to get involved.

Hadlow also offers a wide range of Floristry courses. One of the few colleges to offer the full range of City and Guild/British Florist Association options from Level 1 to Level 4 higher Diploma and on to Level 5 Master Diploma in Professional Floristry (the highest qualification available in the UK), Hadlow was judged ‘floristry college of the year at the 2014 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Finally, Hadlow College is committed to supporting the Kent Life Gardening Competition, which makes a notable contribution by continuing to inspire and encourage amateur gardeners of all ages.



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