First graduate from heritage gardening diploma


The National Trust for Scotland’s School of Heritage Gardening (SHG) has announced this year’s graduates, including the first person to attain the new four-year Diploma in Botanic and Heritage Horticulture.

Carol Pickthall, from St Andrews, plans to pursue a horticultural career after completing the prestigious qualification which is awarded jointly by the SHG and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). She intends to take time out to travel to Australia before pursuing her horticultural career.

Carol was a Trust volunteer at Falkland Palace before going to the SRUC Elmwood College where she studied for her HNC. She completed her second practical year in heritage gardening at Crathes Castle garden where she was updating the champion tree records.

The unique award combines existing SHG and RBGE programmes into one qualification that represents a badge of quality. Colin Wren, SHG co-ordinator explained that employers like the Trust to look to employing gardeners with sound horticultural training, both practical and academic: “While colleges offer excellent classroom training in the important scientific and artistic aspects of horticulture which underpin good practice, it has become increasingly difficult in recent years to find students who have gained sufficient hands-on experience and understanding of the skilled practical aspects of heritage gardening,” he said.

“Many of these traditional and modern skills can only be taught in any depth on a full-time practical course. The School of Heritage Gardening offers practical gardening skills to equip the future custodians of our heritage gardens,” explained Colin.

The new Diploma aims to re-invent the traditional model offering students the opportunity to acquire both theory and practical skills needed to ensure graduates have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform effectively at gardens supervisory level.

The SHG provides one and two-year full-time courses at its main training centre at Threave Gardens in Dumbries & Galloway, and across many of the Trust’s heritage gardens around Scotland.

Horticultural training has been offered by the Trust at their Threave garden for more than 50 years and at RBGE for more than 100 years. By working together, they are combining 150 years of experience and management of almost 40 gardens and designed landscapes.

Other graduates at Threave this year (pictured above) include; Ian Govan, (distinction) Maryjean Smith (merit) and Issac Robinson (merit) on the two-year Diploma in Heritage Gardening. Petra Palkova, Katy Merrington, Sean Hannah and Georgiana Goss (all achieving Distinctions) Kerry McCallum and Jessica Scobie (both Merit Plus) from the one-year Certificate in Heritage Gardening.
Our banner image shows: left-to right: Georgiana Goss, Jessica Scobie, Carol Pickthall, Ian Govan, Issac Robertson, Maryjean Smith, Sean Hannah, Katy Merrington, Kerry McCallum and Petra Palkova.