Saturday, 11 June 2011

Experience and Education

It occurred to me in a quiet moment this week that I've been gardening for about 30 years - unbelievable! - since I had my first garden in my early twenties. I was brought up in the centre of Glasgow in a fantastic Victorian tenement building with turreted windows but no garden. My earliest experience of gardening was my paternal grandfather's plot and the strongest memories I have are of roses and sweetpeas – a garden filled with scent and colour and an image of my Granda B with his shirt sleeves rolled up and a garden fork in his hands. He also grew vegetables but I have little or no memory of the gardening activities associated with these. I do, however, remember my Granny B's preserves and cakes – an influencing factor on my other blogging activity.

HG kitchen
So although I had no day to day access to a garden as I was growing up it was obviously 'in my blood'. I have learned an awful lot over my 30 gardening years: all the way from my first garden with a couple of rows of potatoes, copious amounts of parsley, a long thin row of gladioli and a flurry of godetia – oh, and the tremendous excitement at the sight of a haze of green shoots from a seeded area of grass (definitely couldn't call it a lawn) all the way through five other small/medium-sized gardens (including a mobile one) to our latest garden here at Holly Grove: almost an acre of ground containing a woodland border, several lawns, a kitchen garden and greenhouse, a myriad of herbaceous perennials, roses, clematis, trees, conifers, shrubs, top and soft fruit, hedgerows etc. etc.

previous productive plot
Recently I've been inspired to learn more about the art and science of horticulture and to confirm what I think I already know; how to do this?  It seemed the place to start the search for appropriate learning was the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Two years ago my elder son and DIL kindly arranged membership of the RHS for my birthday and although I took advantage of the reduced admission prices to gardens and RHS shows I didn't take advantage of other facilities but it did give me cause to visit the RHS website – a well put together and informative site - so when thinking about horticultural education where better to begin.

The site provides excellent information on all of the RHS qualifications including past examination papers and details on training providers in your area. So I've printed the details of the Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture and contacted a local college to see if they offer part-time courses and I'm seriously considering taking the plunge. Interestingly when I looked at the recommended reading list for the course I already own about two-thirds of the books, so now I'll just have to read them!

just a sample of gardening books in my library
I'll let you know what I decide to do when I've taken a bit more time to assess the information and work out whether formal training really is for me, and how much of my precious gardening (and baking) time it will take up, but at the moment I'm quite keen to pursue. If anyone has experience of the RHS qualifications and the commitment required I'd love to hear from you.

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