What an amazing day! The Horticulture department was contacted last week by a local private gardening team keen to see the amassed collection of subtropical plant material go to a good home if it was possible to salvage it before the frosts hit. The estate are reclaiming the border within a large walled fruit and vegetable garden for production of more diverse edible crops. This type of plant material is gaining popularity in the UK so it is vital our learners access them…normally through visits to Botanical Gardens or Study tours but not any more…
It was all hands on deck with teams of First and Second year Extended Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma level 3 Horticulture working with First Year Foundation Degree in Garden Design out on site in the Cheshire garden with guidance from teaching staff small student teams worked on areas of the 30 meter long border unearthing all sorts of exotic rare plant species, it was like letting us loose in a sweet shop! Identifying the best methods of lifting and storing plants ranging from 3m tall banana palms and abutilons to a diverse range of aromatic salvias, fan palms, bird of paradise flowers and angels trumpets with plants from Australasia, Africa and South America it was jam packed full of learning new names and new forms! In between squeezing the plants into trailers and ferrying them back to Glasshouse 2 as an impromptu production space, we also managed to have grand tour of the gardens with beautiful structure and such a diverse range of features and plant specimens. Offers of work experience and specialised learning opportunities were also developed as well as experiencing working to high standards of workmanship in multidisciplinary teams.
Once back at college we set about potting up the plant material using composted green waste produced here at Reaseheath. Work on this will continue for the next few days and then the task of propagation lead by expert Neil Bebbington will start meeting many assessment outcomes as well as producing some really exciting plant material. The plants will provide a valuable resource for developing propagation skills and much of the planting will be used to furnish the new horticultural ‘Food Futures and Environment Building’ to being ideally suited for the new microclimate that the courtyard will provide and providing sustainable interior planting to help enhance the interior learning environment.
We hope to share and swap our college propagated plants with regional establishments and are keen to provide propagation support to regional gardens as we develop our diversity of species on site to ensure Reaseheath students work with one of the broadest range of species outside of a Botanical Garden setting in the UK.