Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Garden Academy - October (Part 1)

After sending last year's Academics to Barnsdale to study, a new location was sought for this year's students.  The city of Birmingham was selected and the extensive gardens of Winterbourne House and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens were chosen to be our bases.  Both are used widely by the Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet), who are also accredited to offer the Royal Horticulture Society qualifications involved in the Garden Academy.

Our first day at Winterbourne, however, was spent mostly in the company the talented Adam Frost.  Adam is passionate about nature and design, and is obviously happy to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with the Academics. Winterbourne House and garden form a small country estate dating from 1903, built in the Arts and Crafts style for John and Margaret Nettlefold.  The Nettlefolds found their fortune as part of 'Guest, Keen and Nettlefold plc' - a quite extraordinary enterprise tracing it's roots back to the Industrial Revolution, and still exists today as GKN Aerospace.  The last family to live at Winterbourne bequeathed the property to the University of Birmingham.

We were provided with a tour of the garden by resident guide Abbie.  The Walled Garden with spectacular acers, the Display Glasshouses with incredible cactus and succulents, and the impressive Nut Walk were explained in fascinating detail.

Back in the classroom, the Academics were challenged by Adam Frost to consider where they wanted the Garden Academy to take their careers and lives.  He provided a fascinating insight into his own life as a garden designer, and how unlikely paths, luck, judgement and sheer determination can all lead to the achievement of dreams.  Adam has won Gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show on no less than five occasions, but yet he has even loftier ambitions - inspiring the next generation of gardeners and garden designers.  Adam was clearly instrumental to Homebase Garden Academy's existence.

During the forthcoming days, we are due to commence our RHS training, and attempt some practical horticulture for ourselves. This day had simply reinforced our excitement for the Garden Academy and our future within it.


  1. Winterbourne looks beautiful! I'm looking forward to following your journey over the coming year :)
    Nicola - workingplot.com

  2. Thanks Nicola. Winterbourne House and Garden is a lovely place - we are very fortunate to be based there.