RHS students to help create new garden at King’s College

August 2017

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

An RHS course run at King’s College in Cambridge will give students the unique opportunity to work on a new memorial garden celebrating one of the most renowned poets of 20th Century literature.

The RHS Level 2 Practical Certificate is a one-year course run by Writtle University College, near Chelmsford, at King’s College. The course was launched last year and is the only one of its kind in Cambridge.

The practical gardening programme gives students horticultural experience on areas of the campus not normally open to members of the visiting public. But over the next year they will also be given the opportunity to be involved in the development of a new memorial garden celebrating the life of Xu Zhimo.

Christine Lavelle, course tutor from Writtle University College, said: “In the forthcoming year, work will commence on the Xu Zhimo memorial garden. This exciting development aims to celebrate one of the most renowned romantic poets of 20th Century Chinese literature Xu Zhimo, who was an alumnus of King’s College. His poem Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again is learned by every schoolchild in China, and the garden, once built, will be the focus of tourist interest from there. We plan to involve our RHS students in its development and this will add a further dimension to this exciting course.”

The course gives students the opportunity to work within numerous gardens around King’s College, some of which are not open to the visiting public.

There is a particular focus on the Fellows’ Garden, a beautiful calm oasis in the centre of the City and a fine example of a Victorian garden design. Occupying a privileged site alongside the College backs, it contains numerous good examples of unusual trees and shrubs, set off by sweeping lawns. Normally the preserve of the Fellows and their guests to relax in, this garden provides a perfect location to hone a student's horticultural skills.

Christine added: “Originally laid out in the 1850s, the original King’s College gardens of around 1.5 hectares have remained largely unchanged for the last century and, as a consequence, retain much of their Victorian splendour. That is not to say that things stand still and recent additions such as the pergola, 'tropical' borders and the woodland walk, offer students the opportunity to be involved in these ongoing and exciting developments.”

Students engage in a range of practical horticultural activities on the course in the ambience of this world-renowned setting, from the basics of propagation to the planting and maintenance of plants in the garden. They gain a firm understanding of the importance of soil care and how to assess the suitability of a site for plant establishment. They also get to grips with dealing with the bane of any garden - those ever troublesome weeds!

Enrolments will shorty be closing for places on this RHS course, which is run alongside members of the King's College horticultural team, including Writtle alumnus Steve Coghill, who is the Head of Horticulture at King’s.

• For further enquires regarding the course, the tutors or its place of delivery, please contact Christine Lavelle at Writtle University College. Email cl@writtle.ac.uk, phone Admissions on 01245 424200 or visit writtle.ac.uk.