Gardening courses in the UK: top picks

Tiffany Daneff / 18 September 2015

Tiffany Daneff recommends her favourite garden schools, for when learning from a book or video just isn't enough.

Why go on a gardening course?

Sometimes, when seeking the right way about doing something in the garden, a book or a video just isn’t enough. You need to be able to watch someone demonstrate in front of you and then to ask questions. Whether it’s planting a border, deciding on what vegetables to grow, making a wreath or pruning every gardener learns best from another.

If you don’t happen to have a handy tutor over the garden fence or in the family it makes sense to take a garden course. It doesn’t have to be a full blown affair leading to certification – though that would be a wonderful thing to do. A half day or day session with an expert is hugely informative and should be great fun.

Gardening course picks for 2016

Close to me Coton Manor offers such courses and they get booked up months ahead. I have to confess I haven’t yet been on one – not from lack of desire, I promise. The great thing about private gardens that decide to offer courses is that they can pick whomever they like to come and talk and so the range of speakers is wonderfully broad.

The Coton 2016 Course list has just been launched and includes talks by, among others, James Alexander-Sinclair, Bunny Guinness, Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter, and Anna Pavord. The great thing about many of these courses is their down to earth practical nature. Ideal if you want help with things like designing and managing borders and maintenance and pruning. Courses cost around £80 for a half day including lunch.

Recently I was in Wales, near Abergavenny, where Elizabeth Murray has put together another equally inspiring programme at Llanover which is famed for its streamside walks, spreading meadows, herbaceous borders and arboretum.

With the help of wonderful head gardener Peter Hall (formerly of Powis Castle) thousands of plantings have gone in over the last year alone and this summer the garden was gleaming.

On the talk programme for this autumn/Christmas is the hugely respected plantsman Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers. Also booked is the delightful Mark Diacono of Otter Farm who is guaranteed to entertain and inform on his favourite subject, growing unusual foods. While one of the highlights of the packed spring programme must be Keith Wiley, one of the best and most inventive plantsman in the naturalistic style.

I could go on. But you can find out all this and more at A garden school day, usually £70, includes coffee by a blazing fire a two course lunch and later tea and if you book as a group of four you’ll get a nice discount.

But hurry. Courses at both gardens are booking up fast!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.