Landscape gardening

Talented students prove they are among the best

Chris Shore preparing for his WorldSkills UK final build (photo thanks to Steve Burden Photography)

Chris Shore preparing for his WorldSkills UK national final build (photo thanks to Steve Burden Photography)

Three talented Reaseheath students proved they were among the best in the country by successfully competing in the WorldSkills UK national finals.

Garden landscaper Chris Shore and florists Fiona Davies and Robyn Longden battled it out in front of record crowds last week at The Skills Show, the nation’s largest skills and careers event.

Fiona Davies' final pieces from the competition

Fiona Davies’ final pieces from the competition

Although none brought back a medal, all three classed the show ‘an amazing experience’ and Robyn has been selected to join the potential squad for the next WorldSkills GB team. She and the other young people on the long list will be offered further training opportunities before final selection nearer the 2017 world finals, which will be held in Abu Dhabi.

Robyn will be encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Matt Beesley, a former Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture student who, with fellow team member Jonathan Gill from Northern Ireland, won GB’s first ever medal in landscape gardening at the WorldSkills final in Sao Paulo, Brazil this summer.

Robyn is a Level 3 Diploma in Floristry student while Fiona, who manages our Level 2 Diploma in Floristry course, is studying for her Level 5 Master Diploma in Professional Floristry. Chris has gained his Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture with us and has now progressed onto his Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design. He was one of just six students or apprentices nationwide to qualify for the finals.

Our florists had to create five designs – a hand tied bouquet, a wreath, a bridal bouquet, a decorated lampshade and a pair of customised high heeled shoes – while Chris built a garden to plan which included hard and soft landscaping.

Robyn Longden competing at The Skills Show 2015

Robyn Longden competing at The Skills Show 2015

As well as supporting our competing students, we also took an impressive stand showcasing horticulture, floristry, countryside and environmental archaeology. The Skills Show, at the NEC Birmingham, attracted 80,000 visitors. Many colleagues who helped to staff the stand over the three days said that in their opinion it was the best event they had ever attended.


WorldSkills UK

Silver for Reaseheath landscaper in world finals

Talented Reaseheath College trained landscape gardener Matt Beesley has proved he is among the world’s best by taking silver at the WorldSkills finals in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Matt, from Winsford, and fellow team member Jonathan Gill, from Northern Ireland, achieved Britain’s first ever medal in landscape gardening at the global, Olympics style final last week (finished Sun 16). The pair had to prove their skills and stamina in hard landscaping, plant knowledge and management by building a garden from scratch in four days under the gaze of 259,000 spectators.

WorldSkills runs the competition bi-annually for students aged 23 and under to showcase the skills and value of young professionals in industries ranging from construction, engineering technology and transportation to IT, communications and social and personal services. The GB team recorded its best ever performance with 33 medals.

WorldSkills Sao Paulo closing Ceremony Team UK Matt Beesley with Rianne Chester

WorldSkills Sao Paulo closing Ceremony Team UK Matt Beesley with Rianne Chester

Matt, 21, completed his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture at Reaseheath College in Nantwich in 2012. He now runs his own successful business, Beesley’s Landscapes in Winsford, and employs two apprentices. He first competed in the British selection rounds for WorldSkills while a Reaseheath student and has continued to train intensively as a potential squad member.

The former Hartford High School pupil said: “Winning silver in the world finals has been the best experience of my life. The whole WorldSkills programme has been awesome. I have learned so much and gained such a lot of confidence. I’d particularly like to thank my hard landscape instructor at Reaseheath, Jason Hinks, and my parents for their support.”

Said Jason: “I’m really proud of Matt and how he’s developed as a professional landscaper through WorldSkills. This programme is all about benefiting the students through training and helping them to realise their potential.”

Another former Level 3 Reaseheath horticulture student is a potential member of the GB squad for WorldSkills 2017, to be held in Abu Dhabi.  Christopher Shore, who is about to start his Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design, has successfully  qualified for this year’s WorldSkills UK national finals. The competition is run by the Association of Professional Landscapers for WorldSkills UK.


The Leaf

Reaseheath garden catches the eye at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

Pupils from The Dingle Primary School, Haslington, enjoyed the limelight when they appeared on Reaseheath College’s eye catching garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

Thomas Atkinson, six, his seven year-old sister Beau, Poppy Beeson, eight, and seven year-old Ruby Deaville, who were dressed as ‘bug hunters’, posed on the garden with a giant aphid for photographers on press day.

The flower show, which showcases the best of British gardening talent, was enjoyed by 80,000 visitors before closing on Sunday (July 26). Reaseheath College, in Nantwich, a regular medal winner in previous years, chose this year to put on an educative feature so was not judged in the show garden category.

Beau Atkinson, Ruby Deaville, Poppy Beeson and Thomas Atkinson

Beau Atkinson, Poppy Beeson, Ruby Deaville and Thomas Atkinson from The Dingle Primary School with Reaseheath College’s giant aphid

In line with the RHS’s aim to inspire the younger generation into careers involving horticultural science and viable food production, the garden – called ‘The Leaf’, took visitors on an exploration through the structural layers of a leaf and showed how the plant might try to avoid predators.

The garden was sponsored by Pochin Construction, who are the contractors on Reaseheath’s £8.5 million national centre for horticulture, sustainability and environmental management which is currently being built. The giant aphid was manufactured by Nantwich firm Harbrook Engineering.

The garden itself was designed and built by Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design undergraduates Matthew Kent, Nigel Barber and Sam Lawton. Matt said: “We wanted to step outside the box and design something which was young and interesting. We really enjoyed the reaction of visitors when they were viewing the garden.”

RHS Robyn Longden

Floristry student Robyn Longden shows off the RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year award

Reaseheath floristry students were also celebrating after winning the RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year Competition for the second year running.

The prestigious competition is open to UK based floristry colleges and training providers and showcases the talent of students.

Reaseheath’s victorious team were Level 3 Diploma in Floristry students Carol Edgington, Robyn Longden and Rachel Collinson-Fletcher, who were supported by Head of Floristry Sue Poole.

The students, who were commended by Chairman of Judges Ian Lloyd for their contemporary design skills and for the impeccable condition of their flowers and foliage, have now qualified for the national finals at the Chelsea Flower Show 2016. Reaseheath’s student team took the ‘runner-up’ title at Chelsea this year.

The challenge at Tatton was to create four designs which represented ‘Musical Through Time’. Reaseheath’s florists chose ‘My Fair Lady’ as their theme and created a hat, a wired bouquet, a buffet table arrangement and an arrangement for the entrance of the theatre.

As well as winning the college competition they also won a silver gilt medal for their stand.

Ian Lloyd, who is a senior RHS floristry judge, said: “The stand was immaculate and the finish and presentation were excellent. The whole exhibit was a real credit to Reaseheath’s students and all the judges were extremely impressed.”

Three Reaseheath horticulture students also contested the WorldSkills UK Landscape Gardening semi finals at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. Chris Shore, 20, who has just completed his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture, qualified for the national finals, to be held at The Skills Show in November.

Reaseheath was also one of partners on the Cheshire’s Gardens of Distinction exhibit and ran a series of demonstrations in the Discover and Grow section.

RHS GROUP full group 1mb

Accolade for RHS students

Eighty-five students who gained Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) qualifications at Reaseheath this year have celebrated their achievements.

Mirroring the national trend, around half are professional horticulturists furthering their development while the remainder are career changers and keen leisure gardeners.

Level 2 Friday practical group

Level 2 Friday practical group

Reaseheath is recognised as the leading RHS training and examination centre in the north west and students currently travel from as far as the Wirral, Manchester, Oldham and Church Stretton to attend courses. This year 90 students with a wide age range are enrolled.

Reaseheath offers separate theory and practical qualifications at both Level 2 and Level 3. Once both awards are achieved they convert into a well respected RHS Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture.

Level 2 Monday practical group

Level 2 Monday practical group



Based in Reaseheath’s new £8.3 million Centre for Horticulture, the Environment and Sustainable Technology, RHS students complete a minimum of 430 learning hours to achieve the diploma. Apart from attending lectures they take part in practical activities in the college grounds and also play a key role in building our show gardens at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. In addition they enjoy trips to outstanding local gardens and many will join a study tour to Barcelona next summer.

Congratulating the students at an awards presentation at Reaseheath Hall, RHS Course Manager Anne Harrison said: “These qualifications demand a lot of individual input and the final exams are very stringent. This is why they are so well recognised and respected in the industry. You have put in a tremendous effort, with some of you juggling jobs and home duties alongside your studies, and you should all be very proud of your achievements.”

Head of Horticulture Sarah Hopkinson and RHS Master of Horticulture Harry Delaney, who taught some the students before retiring last year, also attended the ceremony.

Reaseheath offers the RHS Level 2 and Level 3 Certificates in Horticulture (theory and practical) as weekly daytime courses and an additional RHS Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture (theory only) as an evening course.