This year’s bursary winner is the HNC & HND class in horticulture at Argyll College, Lochgilphead (14 students) under the tutelage of Amber Crowley who has made the application on their behalf.
They intend to use the bursary to go on a field trip, now delayed to next spring, to visit commercial nurseries.
Several of them are particularly interested in plant science and hope to go into the ornamentals research. Others have aims to produce crops either as propagators or suppliers to garden centres. From 2020 the College will offer a specialised Production Horticulture route for HNC and HND level and several of the students have chosen to take this route.
As work experience placements are difficult to find in their area the opportunity to visit leading horti-cultural establishments will give the students a greater insight into this industry sector.
"They are working extremely hard, many of them under quite challenging circumstances, to gain their qualifications so that they can start work in the horticultural industry", said Amber Crowley, Tutor. "As our students are dispersed over a wide area, from Inverness to Leeds, Dundee to the Isle of Arran, and many places in between, we do not get an opportunity to all get together and visit commercial establishments to see first hand the production of UK ornamental crops."
There will be approximately 15-20 students ( a mixture of HND and HNC students) on the trip which will last for 6 days. The students will visit Mount Stuart Estate on the Isle of Bute where they will carry out skills workshops at the private plant nursery and in the Asiatic Water Garden, Southern Hemisphere Garden, Arboretum, Pinetum and, 5 acre, Kitchen Garden, Tropical Glasshouse and they will have a private session with the Mount Stuart archivist who maintains an extraordinary plant and garden archive. They will learn about the running of a public historic garden and the process of supplying a commercial restaurant from a kitchen garden as well as the propagation and supply of rare and unusual plants to a garden of this size.The students will also visit Craignish Nursery, a wholsale propagation nursery, to carry out propagation skills workshops (advanced plant propagation workshops for the HND students). Techniques learned will include stem, leaf and root cuttings, grafting, bulb twin scaling, layering and division.
They will also attend skills workshops in horticultural machinery, learning about the operation and maintenance of equipment and machinery such as strimmers, mowers, compost mixers, hedge trimmers etc. The environmental part of their tour will include a visit to an SSSI conservation site – Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation’s Barrandaimh Wildlife Centre – where they will learn about plants in their natural habitats and natural successions of woodland along transect lines. They will also study the interaction of wildlife and habitats including the introduction of beavers to the site and the impact this has had on the natural flora of the area. Commercial visits will be arranged to various producers and retail outlets (to be confirmed) but will likely include small and large plant retailers and growers such as Corachie Clematis.