Horticulture course – the calm before the storm

Time is flying by on the approach to completing my National Diploma in Horticulture course. As I enter the summer term, there are only eight weeks left of teaching. The two week Easter break is coming to a close and I am left reflecting on the fortnight haze of chocolate, plants, meeting friends old and new (and some coursework, but let’s not dwell on that for the time being – it’s still the holidays and we all know the cold sweats brought on by outstanding coursework don’t come until the music of the Antiques Roadshow starts).

Painshill Park

During the first weekend of the break I finally visited Painshill Park. It is not far from where I live, so I have few excuses for why it’s taken me this long to take a look. I felt the restorative affect upon entering this property in the sunshine, fresh air. After feeling a bit poorly the previous week, I benefitted from taking in the lovely views and enjoying the plants for enjoyments sake. I tried not to learn stuff on my walk round, but I couldn’t help it. I was particularly taken with the Amphitheatre. I’d like to say that a year of study allows me to tell you that the planting style taken from the Duke of Norfolk’s plans of the 1740s is that of the Italian renaissance with six tiers of evergreen planting contrasting shape, texture, light and shade in a ‘painterly manner’. In actual fact, that would be plagiarism of the Painshill Park’s useful information display at the entrance to the Amphitheatre. It’s always good to log the language for later use though.


The lovely sunshine continued and I opted to work two days at Nymans and a day at Hampton Court. Nyman’s gardens look spectacular. Along with the other volunteers, I was treated to a plant identification tour with the deputy head gardener and did my best to absorb a fraction of his encyclopaedic plant knowledge. The Easter trail appeared to be a hit with the kids, though I took cover from the chocolate fuelled children by weeding and edging in the rock and heather gardens. Although I ‘m not a huge chocolate eater myself, I always find myself craving toblerone after a visit to Nymans, I can’t imagine why…

Nymans and toblerone hedge

Hampton Court saw my first dull weather day working there just before the bank holiday weekend. The planting looked great and it was just a matter of adding those finishing touches – mowing, edging, raking of sand, watering the urns of Auriculas. Judging from the weather we had over the long weekend, this last job wasn’t vital, though the feed seems to have galvanised them into a mass of flowering judging from what I saw of them yesterday.

Hampton Court Palace Gardens - southside

One of my big highlights of the break was meeting @haplessgardener in person, being a big fan of his blog Growing-up. He is a top bloke and I’m not just saying that because he patiently allowed me to talk at him about horticulture, my course and reasons for changing career. When he had the opportunity to speak, his enthusiasm for gardening, sustainability and rowing is equally compelling. I also caught up with friends I’ve been neglecting as a result of studying and coursework deadlines.

It is going to be a tough couple of months ahead as horticulture activity reaches its height and the seasonally dependent course content adds to the workload. I think I’ve just seen the end to a break until July. Bring it on.

2 thoughts on “Horticulture course – the calm before the storm

    • Pursuing your plant passion by travelling the length of the country. I like it. The last time I was in Yorkshire, I thought it was beautiful. My brother lived in Sheffield and my sister was at Bretton Hall before it became the sculpture park. Have a great time at Kew.

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