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"I wanted to say a huge thank you for the wonderfully inspiring 10 week Garden Design course last autumn."
Briony D

"I was looking for a career change after moving areas two years ago and from my first visit to the school I was impressed by the enthusiasm and professional approach of all involved. The course involves a balance of theory and teaching, with guest lecturers adding to Caroline’s core instruction, and practical work. Feedback from ‘real’ clients has been invaluable."
Dena W
"Thank you for a totally inspiring day. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and want to begin working on my survey, planting plans and mood board straight away. There is a whole lot to learn but instead of being overwhelmed I am very excited knowing that I can take my creativity and put it into a more structured plan to help move forward."
Anita C
"I attended your garden design day course last week and I just wanted to thank you for such an enjoyable and informative day. We both loved it and felt your amazing enthusiasm was deliciously contagious. Loads of ideas now buzzing around."
Rosalie A
"I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed the last 10 weeks and how much I've learned from you and from the others on the course. I will miss Wednesdays at the gardening school but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again at Malvern - and to turning my design into a reality in my own garden! And hopefully to steering my career in a totally different direction as a garden designer."
Carole N
“A belated but heartfelt thank you of the super day I spent at the school a few Saturdays ago! It was a real inspiration, and I am just itching to put ideas into practice and to learn more!”
Elaine M
"Thank you so much for the very informative and interesting course I attended last Saturday, also for the delicious lunch. I’ve certainly come home with plenty of ideas – now I just need the time, energy and vision to put them into practice!"
Geraldine G
"Sending our sincere thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable day at the Garden Design group last Saturday. You honestly made the day so interesting and I was actually amazed how much material I seemed to retain! Believe me Caroline, this is very unusual for me..... :-)"
Maggie N
"I wanted to gain some underpinning knowledge about gardening. Coming to an Open Morning convinced me that the Cotswold Gardening School was a great place to learn. I chose to do the Professional Horticulture course and this became the highlight of my week, every week, for 10 weeks! The School is an inspiring place with great facilities."
Diana M
"Very many thanks for a splendid day on Saturday. The day course was just what I was looking for and I learnt a lot – happy coincidence that we both share clay soil and so it was enlightening to discover new plants which would survive it and to be reassured that some of my choices were also yours. I appreciate the amount you packed into a day’s teaching especially on such a warm day."
Jean M

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Student Life

Students on our longer diploma courses spend one day per week with us at the school for lectures and group tutorials. One year students are also offered private tutorial feedback sessions one to one with Caroline Tatham. Each week all students have handouts to take away for home study as well as a practical creative exercise to complete at home and bring back to the school the following week. Whichever course you choose to study with us sketchbook work will be an important aspect of developing your creativity.

Students are also welcome to make use of the gardens at Gossington Hall for plant study and photography. Past and present students are often invited to volunteer for Caroline’s on-going design projects such as building celebrity stages for RHS shows and at The Royal Garden Highgrove as well as client planting projects.

There is always lots of project work in Caroline's studio for students to see and sometimes they are invited to submit designs as extra optional projects such as recently for Slimbridge Parish Council, who are considering a facelift for our nearby roundabout.

Students are always encouraged to tackle show garden building as a great way to gain experience and effectively publicise their new design businesses and Caroline can offer support having previously mentored RHS show gardens at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival - please visit our student success pages to see more details.


One Year Garden Design Students

Our one year garden design students have a range of visiting lecturers, many of whom will also offer feedback on practical work. Students also have four site visits during the course as each individual live client project is set. Clients are always invited back to the school for presentations and live feedback at the end of each project and there is detailed written feedback from Caroline as each project is assessed.

We try to offer a range of project sites, this year’s students have designed a small village garden, a large rural garden, a public space at the Corinium Museum that will go for planning application and will be built as well as a high-end residential Cotswold garden with stunning views on a sloping site.

One year garden design students also complete a close study of 50 plants or ‘plant portfolio’ as home study. A selection of their work is externally assessed by Bridgwater & Taunton College, who are our partners for this course.




One Year Creative and Practical Planting Students

Our one year creative and practical planting students complete one major project over the academic year which is handed in as five individual sections.

Projects progress from exploring which plants grow best in a range of habitats, exploring seasons of interest images, turning plant features into a design palette of colours shapes and textures, combining these attributes for a range of planting styles and finally considering cultural requirements and how to keep the planting design looking its best.

Students’ main tutor is Caroline Tatham with additional support from Sarah Lowe. Each student also produces a close study of 100 plants to really build up their plant knowledge.




Ten Week Garden Design Students

Ten week garden design students are taught the same techniques as those studying on the one year garden design course but students work on one garden, usually either their own or a site for an existing client. There is group feedback every week and detailed written feedback from Caroline’s assessment of the work between weeks nine and ten of the course.

This is a highly intensive course with a great deal of homework to complete but students will graduate having completed six separate units of work - a site survey, mood board, sketchbook of ideas, master layout plan, planting plan and three dimensional representation of their project.




Ten Week Planting Design Students

Ten week planting design students cover a range of topics from a range of styles of planting to practical considerations about getting the right plant in the right place. There is group feedback every week and detailed written feedback from Caroline’s assessment of the work between weeks nine and ten of the course. In addition to traditional mixed border planting we look at more advanced and contemporary styles of planting such as matrix, meadow and prairie planting as well as organic and biodynamic.

Students complete a close study of 25 plants in order to grow their plant knowledge and learn how to really look at plants closely and appreciate their potential attributes in various seasons that may be of value in planting plans. Students also learn about extreme planting design such as vertical gardening and Piet Oudolf’s planting in New York’s High Line.