A great crop of students...

Manea School of Gardening students
Manea School of Gardening students

Exam results for our RHS students came out today. I am sure that any teacher understands when I say that I have as many butterflies in my tummy waiting for these as do the candidates.

Anyway, our students have done us proud again this year. ‘Phew’ – was one of the comments I received by email from one when she received her results. ‘Whoop Whoop’ was another!

With almost 200 examination papers taken at Manea School of Gardening this year, we are extremely pleased with our success rate of over 90% – with almost half of these being at Commendation level. This is well above the national average for Royal Horticultural Society examinations, so well done all!

One of the perks of being an RHS student is being able to become a member of the RHS at the fantastic students discounted rate of just £10 per annum! As well as allowing entry to loads of brilliant RHS gardens and partner gardens (including Sandringham and Anglesey Abbey) members receive the excellent monthly publication ‘The Garden’.

One of the features in this month’s ‘Garden’ is by TV producer, turned horticulture student, Ade Sellars. As a career changer of 43, now attending Capel Manor College for his studies, he is actually quite typical of the students we see. He tells why he wants to give up a successful career as a television producer to follow his passion of gardening.

At Manea, our students range from 18 to 60-plus. We have taught ex-servicemen, teachers, City bankers, childminders, health care workers – as well as those who are already working in horticulture as gardeners, nursery workers or landscapers. Some join us purely to gain more knowledge for a hobby they enjoy, many more go into the industry – and we have not yet had one unable to find employment, or regret their change of lifestyle!

Covering a wide range of subjects, from Garden Design to Propagation, the RHS courses give a good base on which to build. I often feel those who come here get as much out of their day when ‘not in lesson time’. Interaction with fellow like-minded gardeners, swapping knowledge, skills – and, of course, plants – is something that cannot be achieved by a Distance Learning course, or on your own. It often feels more like a club than a classroom!

The new courses start again this week. This is our fifth year and we now have many students progressing from Levels 1 and 2 up to the Level 3 course, with at least one now going on to the Master of Horticulture, the RHS’s most prestigious professional horticultural qualification.

To help those who are considering a career change, but full-time employment prevents them from attending a weekday course, we are about to start an RHS Level 2 Saturday course – and have just a handful of places left.

Whatever your background, whatever your age, it’s never too late to learn.

- Manea School of Gardening (RHS Approved Centre).

Plant sales on Saturdays 10am -4pm.