Gardening Courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Not everyone is born with green fingers. So part-time gardening courses are increasingly popular with people looking for the skills and knowledge to turn their little patch into a place of wonder. . .

Gardening programmes are always very popular on the telly, especially the garden makeover type of shows. There is something immensely satisfying about watching stunningly beautiful landscapes appear from little more than a sprinkling of seed and a snap of a snips. Skillfully designed and maintained a garden can be a true work of art.

Which leads to the temptation to head out into your own little patch, and copy what you have just seen some guy or girl in scruffy jeans and a check shirt do so easily just minutes before. However, things don’t always go quite to plan. No matter how many times you prop the flowers up, they flop back over again. You’ve been down the garden centre three times in the last week for supplies, but the shrubbery still looks patchy, and the lawn is all uneven. You’ve got more shrinking violets out back than the set of the latest Jane Austen film adaptation.

This shouldn’t make you too disheartened. Gardening is a complex skill that has to be learned like any other. Some people might have naturally green fingers, but even Gerry Daly had to begin somewhere. Gardening courses have never been more popular in Ireland, and there are lots of different varieties and genus of course to choose from.

Absolute beginners classes are a good start. These assume you don’t know one end of a watering hose from the other. This is a good thing, as novices might not realise the many and varied elements which affect the success or otherwise of all gardening endeavours. Different parts of the country have different soil types, for example, so flowers which flourish in your mother’s garden might quickly wither in your own. Some delicate flowers need no looking after, while other sturdy looking shrubs require constant care and attention. It’s a (metaphorical) jungle out there, so a solid grounding in the essentials is very useful if you ever want your garden to look the part.

Some people will already know the basics, so for those looking to gain a little extra expert advice and training, there is a wide range of more comprehensive gardening course options available. Irish course providers offer classes in many elements of the gardening world. Examples include organic gardening and garden design, as well as professional courses for those considering earning a little money from their gardening skills.

Organic gardening is increasingly popular as people learn more about environmental problems, and worry more about the quality of the “natural” produce in their local supermarket. It is now quite fashionable to grow your own food, and ingredients you have planted and tended yourself always taste better. Organic gardening courses will teach natural methods of growing plants and vegetables, composting, controlling weeds and pests naturally, and maybe even growing medicinal and culinary herbs.

Garden design courses work from the premise that designing a garden is akin to creating any other work of art. All shapes and sizes of gardens can benefit from skillful use of line, texture and colour to craft a space that is very aesthetically pleasing. The form of a line can create a sense of direction and movement, using (for example) the curve of a flower-bed, the edge of a walkway, or the outline of plant materials. Some colours produce a soothing effect, while other hues give off a more vibrant and exciting sensation. A course in garden design can make your yard look like a million petunias.

Those with a more professional interest in gardening might be interested in taking a Royal Horticultural Society certified course, and gaining a qualification in horticulture or a related subject. The RHS certificates prepare people for a career in the gardening world, and teach all kinds of interesting facts and skills such as plant identification, plant physiology, soil profiles, ornamental landscape construction, and environmental protection.

Given the our current economic misfortunes, not many of us have extensive grounds surrounding our homes. In fact, many of our “gardens” are confined to small, square backyard plots, or flower boxes, terraces, and even rooftops. Gardening courses can show you how to make even the most standard and anonymous looking of apartments or semi-ds stand out from its neighbours.

So we can all benefit from a gardening course. In a way, gardening is a bit like cooking. Everybody just assumes they can do it, as they’ve seen it done a million times, and the basics are handy enough. But it quickly turns out to be a bit more difficult than you thought. A gardening course can give you the basics, and then allow you to learn more about creating and shaping your garden. So next time you are watching a gardening show on the telly, you can sit back, smile, and say – “Yeah, that looks good, but you should see mine “

Frank Bolger

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