New Year: A Great Time To Sign Up For A Gardening Course

By Andy McIndoe

New Year is a great time to sign up for an online gardening or garden design course.

It’s the start of a new gardening year so why not kick off the season with a gardening course? - (as listed by The Daily Telegraph in Best Gardening Courses).  I’m sure many readers of this blog have already tried one of our online gardening courses, but if you haven’t there couldn’t be a better time to sign up. You might be a beginner; that’s great.

You will find an online horticulture or garden design course ideal to give you some basic gardening knowledge to work with. You might have been gardening for years. That’s great too; there’s always something new to learn.

So how can an online course with MyGardenSchool be suitable for both novice and experienced gardeners? That’s simple: you and your tutor tailor the course and the assignments to your requirements as you go along.

Both the home page and the ‘how it works’ pages tell you how it works, but let me explain too. A course lasts for one month. You join a virtual classroom with your tutor and other students doing the course at the same time. Each Saturday for four weeks a lecture becomes available for you to watch and study as many times as you wish.

The lecture, delivered by your tutor usually lasts for about half an hour. There are course notes to download, so if you are doing a course with lots of plant names, don’t worry. They will be there for you in the course notes. Each week there is a straightforward assignment for you to do. You submit it and share it with others in the virtual classroom and your tutor will comment on it and make suggestions.

You can ask as many questions as you wish and I do encourage you to ask questions and interact with your tutor and others in your class. If you happen to be the only one on the course that month, don’t worry. You have your tutor all to yourself, so make the most of his or her knowledge.

The big advantage is that you can listen to and watch the lectures when it suits you. You can do the assignments when it suits you. Comment from a student: “I've always had a love of gardening and decided on this course to extend my knowledge of trees. I am quite busy, so being able to watch your lectures online in the evenings is perfect.”Life is busy for all of us, especially if you are working full-time. Attending an evening course can be a real tie and you may find that you can’t always make it. Doing a course on line with MyGardenSchool fits in with your lifestyle and routine.

I have had students on my courses on lawns, bulbs, wildlife, shrubs and trees for a number of reasons: some landscape architects, garden designers, practical landscapers and garden maintainers and some private gardeners. My aim is for every individual to get what he or she wants from it. A comment from a student on my course on trees “Just to let you know I've submitted by third assignment and based the second part on another project I'm working on. I hope you don't mind me using these as examples but I think it's more interesting for us both to base it on actual work!” This is perfect as it means we are working on a real-life situation and it is so much more useful for the student.

Although some do MyGardenSchool courses just to take in the lectures, we do encourage students to have a go at the assignments. Students that do the assignments throughout a course get so much more from it. Some may find them too difficult; others may find them too simple. All you have to do is tell your tutor and he or she will help you, or modify the assignment for you. As with anything the more you put into the course, the more you will get from it.

One of the main things I love as a MyGardenSchool tutor is the learning about gardeners in such a variety of situations all over the world. I always ask my students to introduce themselves and tell me and others in the class something about their gardening world. That can be their own garden or gardens they deal with or even design.

They may only have a balcony or a roof garden or they may have a yard of several acres. Gardening and the plants we work with vary hugely in different areas of the world – that is what makes gardening fun and courses like these so interesting for all of us. I garden in the South of England; I have a large garden of my own, I advise and design for a number of private gardens and I sell plants through a number of garden centres. So I am always helping people to decide what to plant and how to go about choosing the right plants for a situation.

Comment from a student on my bulbs course: “Thank you so much for this class. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to reviewing the lessons again. I was completely unfamiliar with spring bulbs, and now see how they can add colour, excitement and life after a long winter. Thank you so much!” She had a roof garden in New York; her fellow students included one from Belarus and one from Devon, England.


So why not give it a go. Our next courses start on 6th January 2016 and I know all of the My Garden School tutors would love you to join them in class. Take a look at the courses page now. Personally I would love to see you on any of my courses, especially Choosing and Using Shrubs in Garden Design. Late winter is one of my favourite shrub seasons in the garden and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Andy McIndoe

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