21 MAY 2020 39
If being at home so much has given you
a renewed enthusiasm for gardening,
or perhaps sparked your interest for
the first time, you may be feeling the
need to increase your knowledge.
Well, now you can do that
from the comfort of your own
front room. Learning with Experts
in online courses covering a host of
subjects. Gardening is taught by some
of the best names in the business –
people who you would normally never
have this much access to.
The courses focus on building a
community of like-minded learners,
with classes no bigger than 20
people. This gives all participants the
opportunity to share their thoughts,
photographs, successes and failures
in a friendly internal forum.
Subjects for study include the
art of planting perennials with
the internationally renowned Piet
Oudolf; designing a small garden with
Annie Guilfoyle; pruning with David
Hurrion; or creating a scented garden
with florist Dr Rachel Petheram. You
could also learn about houseplants
with horticultural consultant Jamie
Butterworth; get the lowdown
on roses with Michael Marriott,
chief rosarian at David Austin
Roses; or perfect the art of lawn
maintenance with RHS gold medal
winner Andy McIndoe.
There are two ways to study. The
Expert Option, starting at £109, gives
you lessons with online videos and
notes, marked assignments and four
weeks of access to your tutor, with
feedback and coaching. Alternatively,
the Peer Option starts at £29 with
all the teaching but not the marked
assignments or personal tutor access.
You can begin the courses at any
time and both options offer the online
classroom with up to 20 others, plus
lifetime use of the videos and notes.
You could even study for the Royal
Horticultural Society’s prestigious
Level 2 qualification. However, this
involves eight separate modules, so
the cost rises to £299 for the Peer
Option and £699 for the Expert.
It’s a mark of how successful
Learning with Experts is that, whereas
an average completion rate of online
courses is just 20%, it scores more
than 80%. Happy studying!
VIRTUAL CHELSEA 2020
This year, the coronavirus crisis has
stopped the Royal Horticultural
Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in its
tracks. However, determined that the
event goes on one way or another,
the RHS is bringing, if not Chelsea
itself, then at least a flavour of the
world-famous show to us online.
Every morning from now until
Saturday (23 May), a leading designer,
florist or gardening personality
will take us on a tour of their own
private plot. UK growers who were
due to exhibit at the show will also
give behind-the-scene tours of their
nurseries. Some will even replicate the
magnificent displays they had planned
for the Great Pavilion.
There will be a daily School
Gardening Club with activities to help
families garden together during the
lockdown, plus an interactive question
and answer session each lunchtime.
For more information, visit rhs.org.uk.
However you decide to add more colour in
the garden, the best effects occur when you use
a combination of paint and plants together,
in either contrasting or complementary
schemes. Some of my favourite super-vibrant
flowers are dahlias – tall, red ‘Bishop of
Llandaff’ is wonderful (and, for some reason,
slugs don’t seem as partial to it as they are
to other varieties of this plant).
If you’ve got a lot of white flowers, a
bright splash of colour in among them can
look amazing – one of the hardy geraniums
such as magenta ‘Patricia’, for example.
Acid-green euphorbias look stunning with
cool blues, as well as hot oranges and reds.
Meanwhile, heucheras such as ‘Electra’
and ‘Blondie in Lime’ make great colourful
pinpoints in a border.
Don’t forget garden furniture when it comes
to outdoor décor, either. A few pieces dotted
about are good focal points. I’m also a huge fan
of upcycling indoor furniture that’s no longer
needed, with a few coats of paint to protect it
outdoors for a season or two. I’ve even been
known to turn a patio purple, and to stencil
garden walls. So go on, step outside your
comfort zone this summer and splash that
colour around. You won’t regret it!
Next week Harry Rich
for the more vibrant flowers – a red rose
against a black fence is amazing. Remember,
cold hues appear to recede while hot ones
look nearer, so bear that in mind – especially if
you’d like your garden to seem bigger than it is.
I’ve got a bit of a thing about sheds at
the moment. People tend to want to hide
them, but they usually draw attention to
themselves anyway. So why not make a
feature of them – and what better way to
do that than with a lick of bright paint,
perhaps with the door in one shade and the
rest in another? Add a living roof and some
window boxes, and your shed has become an
attractive focal point rather than an eyesore.
If you’re not sure of your scheme, paint a
big sheet of paper with what you have in mind
and pin it up. Then you can see how you feel
after you’ve lived with it for a few days.
If you don’t want to reveal the shed all
at once, position it behind a large shrub or
mature plants to give a tantalising glimpse
of its new look that will tempt visitors to
explore and find out what’s there.
Pots are another good way of introducing
areas of colour. You can buy them ready
painted, of course, or try taking a brush to
some of the old plastic planters you were
thinking of throwing away – they’ll look
brilliant clustered together on a patio.
bright ideas Plants and paint
complement and contrast (left and
centre bottom); bee hotel ( far left);
dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff ’ (centre top)
course work Study small garden design with Annie Guilfoyle
items from the
Photography: GAP/Gary Smith, John Martin/Alamy, GAP/Friedrich Strauss, Annie Guilfoyle, Learning with Experts.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW!