Garden courses

Planting a garden for interest in all seasons with Sally Gregson

Ref: S1D09421

Suitable for all

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About this course

Discover how to create a garden that bursts with interest all year round. You will learn the principles of structural and seasonal planting design, selecting plants for their foliage as well as flowers.

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the planning and planting of a garden to achieve interest throughout the year and to extend its use through the seasons.

What you will learn:

• The principles of planning a garden in order to make it suit the user and also to encourage people to use the garden throughout the year.

• How to use hard landscaping in the garden and to incorporate other features for interest.

• How to choose plants that will perform well in the garden.

• How to combine plants to create a good effect throughout the year.

Main topics covered:

• Planning the garden for all year use.

• Introduction to the principles of planting design.

• Structural planting.

• Seasonal planting.

• How to choose and combine plants for all year interest.

Teaching methods:

• Illustrated talks.

• Group discussions.

• Group exercises.

• Individual guided exercises.

Session 1:

Introduction to designing a garden for all year interest:

Garden layout - planning the layout or changing an existing layout.

Hard landscaping and garden features - keeping to the same materials in the garden to create unity of design.

Structural planting - trees/hedges/evergreen shrubs to position first.

Seasonal planting - planting for winter interest in particular.

Session 2:

Introduction to planting design:

The horticultural requirements of plants - soil type/pH/aspect.

Getting the spacing right/working out numbers.

Mixed, tiered planting schemes, practice some planning in groups.

Successional planting in practice.

Session 3:

Plant portfolio:

Which plants to choose for structural elements - slides.

Examples of useful plants for seasonal planting schemes - evergreens to form structural elements/key seasonal plants.

Final session:

How to combine plants to create good effect all year round:

More planning practice for all year planting schemes - quick individual plans.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Scissors
  • Required preparation:
  • If you wish to learn about plants with reference to a particular planting area, it is useful, but not essential to know in advance:
  • 1. What sort of soil - sandy, chalky, clay, peat?
  • 2. What is the acidity or alkalinity of the soil?
  • 3. Is the planting bed sunny or shady?
  • 4. How much maintenance do you intend?

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Plain paper or sketch book to draw on
  • Basic drawing equipment
  • Basic colouring pencils

Advisory booklist: RHS New Encyclopaedia of Plants and Flowers, Dorling Kindersley (This is a thick tome and expensive, but useful for anyone who is interested in learning about different types of plants for use in the garden.) Perfect Plant Perfect Place by Roy Lancaster, Dorling Kindersley (A good book for choosing the right plants to suit your garden conditions.) Plants for All Seasons by Ursula Buchan, Mitchell Beazley Successional Planting for Adventurous Gardeners, Christopher Lloyd

Student Reviews

"Learning so much from Sally Gregson. She was engaging and so knowledgeable. My head's buzzing with ideas! Lovely too to meet the other people on the course. Such a lovely day"

Gill 2019

"The surroundings, quiet time to concentrate and good topic"

Paul 2019

"Firstly have really enjoyed staying at the college with our beautiful room and view and which is also good value. The course was also excellent with Sally Gregson"

Georgina 2019


Sally Gregson

Sally has been tutoring gardening courses at West Dean for over five years. She trained professionally at Hadlow College, and runs Mill Cottage Plants in Wookey Somerset.

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