July 23, 2017

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Routes into Horticulture at Hever Castle & Gardens

One of the most famous gardens in Kent will be loaned as a playground and practical study area from this September as Hever Castle & Gardens team up with the RHS to provide horticultural qualifications.

Dedicated amateur gardeners and those looking to develop their horticultural skills further will be able to take the nationally recognised qualifications of: RHS certificates Level 2 in the Principles Of Plant Growth Propagation and Development, the Principles of Garden Planning and Maintenance and RHS Level 2 in Practical Horticulture.

The courses will be delivered by RHS tutors in the fantastic setting of Hever Castle & Gardens designed and built in 1904 -1908 by William Waldorf Astor. Astor’s garden legacy provides a perfect playground in which to learn and practice horticultural disciplines.

Head gardener Neil Miller said: “There’s no better place than Hever Castle & Gardens for learning through observation. The courses are good if you are looking to extend your knowledge or even go for a full-time career in horticulture. There are lots of benefits from studying in-situ where you are able to relate the theory to the practical day to day working of a garden.”

Tutorials on site will be hosted against a colourful seasonal backdrop. Students will be able to learn and observe as the gardening year progresses from drifts of daffodils, hyacinths and bluebells in early spring giving way to an impressive celebration of the tulip in April through to camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Roses take centre stage in the walled Rose Garden and Shrub Rose Border in summer while seasonal bedding and shrubs populate the Pompeiian Wall. An amazing collection of ferns and hostas provide a great tutorial in shady planting by Pergola Walk and the perennial long border and dahlia displays beside Two Sister’s Lawn. There are unusual areas of interest such as woodland planting on Church Gill Walk and perennials and grasses which can be observed in abundance on Diana’s Walk.

There are no prerequisites for entry to the courses just a passion for plants and the desire to take gardening to the next level.

The courses can be taken alone or together to gain the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture. Those who successfully complete all the necessary units for the three level 2 theory-based qualifications will gain the RHS Level 2 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture.

The RHS Qualification Level 2 Diploma in the Principles & Practices of Horticulture is well recognised within the industry. Students who achieve it are well placed to progress onto further courses, or into employment.

Some of Hever’s own gardeners have taken the RHS Level 2 certificates onsite with the RHS tutors. Seb Dunn aged 22 came to Hever straight from college, he said: “I’ve talked about being a gardener since the age of 13 – it’s been my dream job. I’ve been working under Neil Miller here for the last four years and he has been brilliant but taking the RHS certificates has added to my knowledge and experience. I took the RHS plants and soil science module looking at the make-up of soil and structure and how the nutrients get to plants. I also took the garden design certificate and I’m hoping to obtain a couple of design contracts for private work. The RHS certificate at Hever has really opened up more possibilities from a career perspective for me but the courses are for everyone – you don’t need to work in horticulture currently to take them.”

Achievement on the course is assessed with nationally set written examinations and practical assessments. Hever Castle recommend that students take the examinations.

Tuition fees include free access to Hever Castle & Gardens for the duration of the course.

Courses begin on the 18/19 September and run on Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Applications are currently being taken via the Hever Castle website: www.hevercastle.co.uk

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