Landscaping Courses in the UK: Global Leaders in Landscaper Education

There are degree courses, diploma courses and certificate courses available for any one who wants to enter the world of landscape or garden design as a professional.

For the private gardener who wants to learn more about the techniques of planning a garden design, these courses, with their emphasis on large public landscaping, a knowledge of soil dynamics and geology, technical drawing and a qualification at the end are not always either appropriate or indeed adequate.

Many of the colleges offering one or two year courses will also have occasional day courses where you can be taught, for example, how to lay patio slabs, or the basics of dry-stone walling, or fence construction. This is all very useful but it does not really answer the requirements of a creative-minded gardener seeking to turn her, or occasionally his, garden into something unique which is both full of plant interest and a work of art in its own right. If the gardener dreams of being a second Vita Sackville-West creating Sissinghurst, it is unlikely that Guildford College's one day course on brickwork pier and arch construction, useful though it is, will be quite what she is looking for.

There are a number of private institutions which run notably distinguished courses. The English Gardening School in Chelsea does not come cheap, a three day workshop for garden designers is £420 and a one day a week, ten week course on designing your own garden is £1350, but this is a school which has trained a large number of well-known garden designers and for the private individual with creative talents just waiting to be used in the garden, it is probably money well spent.

The English Gardening School started in the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of the oldest and most famous botanical gardens in the world. At Hampton Court, built in the 15th century and surrounded by 1000 acres of parkland, woodland and one of the loveliest and most splendid gardens in Europe, landscaping and garden design courses are run by a firm of landscape designers. There are a number of one to three day courses, some of which are intended for professionals, covering such subjects as "Setting up a design practice", but there are also several courses which are either intended for private gardeners or suitable for them, such as "Learn how to survey your garden" and "Colour blending for garden designers". One day courses like these, taught by professional garden design companies, will cost in the region of £90 to £100.

A number of other famous gardens have such courses, some of them run by the garden staff themselves, as at Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire – previously a horticultural college which trained women gardeners, many of whom became head gardeners in some of Britain's most famous gardens.

Among the best and most individual landscaping or gardening courses are those run by talented and creative individuals. There are a large number of courses to choose from but generally speaking these are given in their own gardens and workshops by individual trained garden and landscape designers who spend part of their time designing gardens for others and part of their time giving courses to people who want to design their own. They offer courses covering the basics of simple surveying for your own garden and simple technical drawing so that you can plan your own garden and commit the plans to paper. There are also individual courses given by people who regard themselves primarily as gardeners rather than designers. These are intensely practical courses given by gardeners of vast experience and are likely to cover such areas as plant propagation, composting, and pruning.

A new trend in gardening courses is the combination of learning about gardening with a holiday. There have always been holidays for gardeners with guided tours and talks, but there are now a growing number of courses for gardeners, often one or two day courses, in holiday destinations, ranging from the Scottish islands to the south of France. For example, there are a number of one-day courses in a nursery in Caune-Minervois in the Languedoc region of France. This presents a wonderful opportunity for the travelling, and gardening, tourist to learn something of French garden design and southern plants. At 50 euros for the day, this seems good value.