South Eastern Regional College offers a chance to hone your garden design skills…
Most gardeners are garden designers, whether they realize it or not. Choosing where to place a particular container or deciding which plants work well together is part of a process that aims to maximize a space’s impact on the eye. When taken to extremes by the likes of Capability Brown, the 18th century landscape designer, garden design can involve acres of land, enormous amounts of labor and thousands of plants. But good design can be just as crucial in a small space, where planting and landscaping together can create a look and feel that transcends its location. This in many ways sums up the garden designer’s challenge, whether it’s creating a wild landscape in Chelsea or bringing tropical exoticism to an urban backyard.
If you want to develop or hone your garden design skills and don’t live too far from South Eastern Regional College’s Holywood campus, the college is launching what it calls “the only course of its kind” in the north – an OCN level 2 certificate in garden design. Joanna Loane, Associate Lecturer in Horticulture at Serc, says the course is “suitable for aspiring professional garden designers; landscapers looking to further their education and gain a qualification, or those who want to learn the skills to be able to design their own garden”. .
Without prior knowledge of gardening, students will be trained in surveying garden sites, learn to draw to scale, and cover the principles of garden design and hard landscaping. They will also expand their knowledge of plants, learning about plant selection and the use of color and texture, while having the opportunity to study the work of influential historical and contemporary garden designers.
“Garden design is a popular and growing industry with factors such as lifestyle changes during Covid shutdowns causing people to enjoy their gardens in a whole new way,” says Joanna.
“Here at Serc we have been successfully delivering garden design courses since 2003, building on that experience this new course has been developed with OCN NI to help meet this growing interest.”
When it comes to equipment, Joanna says garden design practitioners “only need basic equipment for drawing.”
She also insists that it will suit gardeners of all tastes: “Whether you prefer the simple, clean lines of ultra-contemporary gardens or the informality of animal gardens, students will have the opportunity to develop their skills in design in their own area of interest.
If you imagine yourself as the next Bunny Guinness (God forbid) or Diarmuid Gavin (Yikes) and dream of creating a haven of relaxation or something that will satisfy the needs of a family, the Serc course could be perfect for your gravel and your red brick garden path.
The course lasts three hours on a Tuesday morning each week on the Holywood campus. Graduates will have the skills to create design solutions and layouts to suit any need, from a small garden that needs to house bins or a fuel tank, to larger landscapes.
It is possible to continue in year two for an OCN Level 2 Extended Diploma in Garden Design (3 hours on Tuesday afternoons), which involves the study of garden styles, plant and soil science and plant care. Ultimately, students could progress to the RHS Level 2 Plant Growth and Development also offered at SERC.
The course costs £277 for the year, with a 25% discount for people over 60 and a further discount for those who are eligible to receive benefits.