Tom Cole

RHS: Features & Planning (5)

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    Includes personal feedback and tuition. More

  • $140

    Learn in an online classroom with no more than 20 classmates. More

Course Description

In this module candidates will be introduced to several popular features that can be used to enhance a garden.

Candidates will learn the fundamentals required to conduct an accurate survey, as well as studying design principles and planning requirements. They will then be shown how to combine these techniques with plants suited to the environment they are working in to create the perfect garden they envision.

This course is taught by Hilary Thomas, and if you opt for expert access your work will be marked by Tom Cole.

Please note: The RHS has now updated their syllabus for RHS Level 2, this course is still available to start, but you will need to take exams by Feb 2024.

View the new RHS Level 2 online course

Course outline

  • Garden Surveys and Site Appraisals

    This lesson will begin by instructing you on how to accurately measure a garden in order to create a clear survey plan, this includes the equipment required to complete your survey. You will also be guided through the process of surveying a house, with informative advice on how best to factor into your surveys: micro-climates; drainage; wind direction; and conservation areas.

  • Principles of Garden Planning

    Here you will be guided through the various fundamental styles that can be applied to your garden plan - from symmetry to asymmetry, and from modern to minimalist. You will also discuss the effects of scale and proportion, and how best to use rhythm and repetition to your advantage.

  • Visual Qualities of Plants

    This lesson tackles plant form (for instance fan, columnar, dome) and the varied visual impact it can have. You will also study flower form and its contribution to overall shape, before moving on to examine coarse texture of plants and how to effectively use colour to provoke an emotional response to a garden.

  • Range of Hard Landscaping Materials

    In this lesson you will begin with an in-depth study of horizontal design elements (such as patios, paths, drives) and the advantages and disadvantages of the various materials that can be used for them. You will also conduct a similar examination of vertical elements (walls, fences, screens). Additionally you will be taught about the potential aesthetic benefit of steps, including the need for landings and safety features.

  • Adding Interest

    Here you will explore several different features that can add interest to a garden. This ranges from sculpture to water features, and from rock gardens to electric features. You will also look in depth at the reasons for using pergolas and the effects they can create, as well as considering garden furniture and how important it is to consider purpose before choosing a material or aesthetic.

  • Factors for Consideration for Larger Vegetation

    In this lesson you will consider the role that trees, shrubs and hedges play in a garden. You will learn about the factors that affect the suitability of vegetation for a specific area - for instance how certain trees suit large parks but not domestic gardens, or how hedges can be used to create either a formal or an informal look.

  • Herbaceous Perennials, Alpines, and Rock Garden Plants

    This lesson begins by covering herbaceous borders in their traditional forms. From there you will be encouraged to consider more diverse concepts, namely: island beds, mixed borders, naturalistic plantings, and container planting. You will also learn how the height of plants should affect where you plant them.

  • Range of Annuals, Biennials and Bulbs

    In this final lesson you will learn some key definitions (e.g. half-hardy annuals and biennials). You will also be advised on the best ways to design and compose hanging baskets, before considering the benefits of bulbs and being given several examples of bulbs that are suited to different times of year.

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option


    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from Tom Cole

    • Start course whenever you like
    • 8 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 8 assignments marked by Tom Cole
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 8 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course whenever you like
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 8 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 8 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more

Buy this course for a business or group

You can now buy this course through your business or organisation for individuals and groups up to 20

Gardening classroom - how it works

  • Start anytime

    Watch video tutorials led by expert tutors

    Watch video tutorials led by expert tutors
  • Test yourself

    Practice what you learn with inspiring assignments

    Practice what you learn with inspiring assignments
  • Personal tuition

    Get assignment feedback from expert tutors

    Get assignment feedback from expert tutors
  • Share ideas

    Collaborate and chat directly to classmates

    Collaborate and chat directly to classmates

Meet Tom Cole

Tom Cole - Gardening
Tom has been involved in land-based education since 1991. He was a lecturer at Capel Manor College, which culminated in becoming Head of Horticulture in 1997-2009. This role involved overseeing and leading a team based at 5 sites covering the London area. During 2009, Tom moved to Writtle University College as a Curriculum Manager, overseeing Further Education covering Agriculture, Countryside and Horticulture. During 2010 he became the Head of Faculty.

More recently, Tom has spent much time delivering RHS qualifications at Capel Manor College. He is an RHS Associate and speaker, qualification writer for Pearson/ BTEC and marks RHS Level 2 exams. Tom is also currently expanding a small, but perfectly formed soft landscape and maintenance business. Aside from teaching, he regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio Essex with Ken Crowther and contributes to various garden magazines.

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Awards & Accreditations

  • Good Web Guide
  • Red Herring Winner
  • Education Investor Awards 2021 - Finalist
  • CPD Accredited (provider 50276)