Diploma in Practical Horticulture

The English Gardening School
In London

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Important information

Typology Course
Location London
Duration 1 Year
  • Course
  • London
  • Duration:
    1 Year

Give a comprehensive understanding of how to make and maintain a healthy and attractive garden. Basic horticulture techniques are explained, demonstrated and, on many occasions, opportunities arise for active participation in a real garden.
Suitable for: Beginner, self-taught enthusiast, garden designer or new garden owner

Where and when
Starts Location
On request
66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS, London, England
See map
Starts On request
66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS, London, England
See map

Teachers and trainers (5)

Catherine Hayward
Catherine Hayward
Course Director

Derry Watkins
Derry Watkins

Rosemary Alexander
Rosemary Alexander

Sarah Cook
Sarah Cook

Steven Bradley
Steven Bradley

Course programme

Although the emphasis is on the ornamental garden, the syllabus also includes fruit and vegetable gardening. This course requires self-motivation and a degree of commitment from all students, requiring an additional two days per week to be spent on homework. Work must be well executed and submitted on time.

This course has recently been restructured. Now containing all the elements required by the syllabus of the Royal Horticultural Society, students are encouraged to sit the prestigious RHS examination leading to the RHS Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture.


The course takes place over three ten-week terms, each with a half-term of one week, and commencing in September. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 10.30am to 3.15pm, with the progressive lectures and visits providing technical knowledge and a plant vocabulary. Teaching is both theoretical and practical; hands-on experience gives confidence in handling plants, tools and machinery. Students require regular access to a garden to complete their project work. Diplomas are only awarded to those who achieve the required pass mark in all written exercises and projects, including the regular plant identification tests, plant portfolio and garden log studies.

Project Work

In addition to regular progressive studies, several seasonal projects are set throughout the growing year.


Seasonal visits to gardens and nurseries of interest are organised throughout the year. Practical days are held at Sandhill Farm House in Hampshire, Glyndebourne in East Sussex as well as the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

The Syllabus
Autumn Term lecture subjects include -

* Introduction to the Chelsea Physic Garden, briefing on garden log, plant portfolio and nomenclature
* Plant life and families
* Autumn and winter interest plants
* Bulbs – theory and practical
* Lawns and meadows
* Tree planting and pruning
* Soils – analysing and improving the soil
* Manures, mulches and making compost
* Glasshouses, potting sheds, mowers and safety
* Introduction to garden design


· Garden log, plant portfolio, lawns exercise, plant worksheet, soils report and plant identification tests.
Spring Term lecture subjects include -

· Early and late spring interest plants

· Vegetable and fruit gardening

· Plant health – pests, diseases and weed control

· Garden design – site, aspect and association

· Weed control and ground cover planting

· Gravel gardens and herb gardens

· Plants for form and foliage

· Propagation – practical - cleaning and sowing seeds, pricking out, taking cuttings

· Pruning – practical – training wall plants, work on shrub and herbaceous borders

· Visit to RHS garden at Wisley


· Garden log, plant health exercise, propagation exercise, plant portfolio, Wisley work sheet exercise, plant identification tests.
Summer Term lecture subjects include -

· Plants for form and foliage

· Summer interest plants

· Colour in the garden

· The wild garden

· Maintenance, efficiency and reducing the work load

· Water gardens

· Organic gardening, conservation and encouraging wildlife

· Visit to water, arboretum and organic gardens


· Complete garden log and plant portfolio

· Maintenance review, water garden exercise and plant identification tests
Graduation and prize giving

Applying for a Course:

Applicants will be invited to a group information session at the School with the Vice Principal, Simon Pyle, who explains each course in detail. During this hour, students are shown the lecture rooms, may see a class in progress and possibly meet other students. Upon acceptance as a student, a deposit is required, full payment being due at least two months before the course begins. Graduation with presentation of diplomas is held at the end of each academic year.

On payment of the balance of fees, students will be sent a timetable, reading list, guidance on how to prepare for the course and a list of necessary equipment.

Our long experience in teaching ensures value for money. Except at the sole discretion of the Principal, fees cannot be refunded nor are places transferable from year to year or to another subject.

Additional information

Payment options:

For cheques and transfers from banks other than British clearing banks, or if you wish to pay other than in £ sterling, please add £12 to the total cost of the course (after VAT) to cover clearance charges.

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