NQ Gardening and Horticulture
Full-time, one year
Do you like the idea of working outside ‘on the land’? There are lots of different career options in the land industries, including horticulture (gardening), landscaping, tree surgery and agriculture. These sectors create many economic, environmental and social benefits, employing large numbers of people. Our agriculture courses provide you with a great learning experience, largely due to our partnership with the Dean Estate in Kilmarnock. Much of our outdoor learning takes place there, providing a realistic setting, as well as the opportunity for you to work on real projects with Estate staff.
If you’re thinking about a career in the land industry, this course can help you get started.
For entry to this course you’ll need:
- A real interest in working outside ‘on the land’
- Three National 4s or equivalent OR a relevant NC course at SCQF Level 4 (such as Access to Land and Tree Surgery) or equivalent
- An interview with us
If you don’t have any formal qualifications, but have life experience, then we’ll also consider you for a place, so please call us for a chat.
This course will help you achieve a high level of skills in horticulture (gardening), as well as both soft and hard landscaping. Throughout the year, you’ll be based mainly at our facilities in the Dean Estate, so you’ll experience the changing seasons, as well as all the health and wellbeing benefits involved in working outside with nature.
Here’s just some of what you’ll be doing:
- You’ll develop your horticultural skills for home gardens and allotments. You’ll grow your own crop and carry out maintenance tasks such as pruning. You’ll learn about plant ‘propagation’ and how to create new plants from seeds, cuttings and bulbs.
- You’ll expand your knowledge of ‘woody’ plants, like trees and shrubs. You’ll learn how to produce them from seed, lift, plant and maintain them. You’ll also discover how to control the damage to forests and trees by weeds, and learn how to use a clearing saw.
- You’ll look in detail at the different types of soil, and also turf maintenance, including the right fertiliser for the perfect football pitch!
- You’ll work with the Construction department and develop skills in ‘hard’ landscaping, learning about walling and how to lay pavings.
- You’ll learn how to create attractive ‘soft’ landscaping features, and plant a whole range of bulbs, seasonal bedding, wall shrubs and borders.
To improve your employability further, you’ll complete a First Aid course.
You’ll also have the opportunity to:
- Go on work experience placements, such as at the Dean Estate, a golf course or plant nursery.
- Volunteer on a community project, such as help set up an eco-garden in a school, dementia garden in a nursing home or improve an outdoor space.
In this course you will have built transferable Essential Skills in meaningful contexts to help you become more effective in life, learning, and work. This could be communication, numeracy, ICT, working with others, and problem solving.
When you successfully complete this course, you’ll have the choice of:
- Moving onto a Level 6 course such as NPTC Tree Surgery or an HNC/D at SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College)
- Seeking to start your career in horticulture with employment/Modern Apprenticeship in horticulture, landscaping, greenkeeping, estate maintenance, country park ranger, etc.
Local employers often come to us to recruit students from this course as employees and/or apprentices, including land engineering companies and estates.