Horticultural training

The New Growth Project is a twelve-week part-time horticultural training course. The aim is to provide horticultural training and education to individuals who have a desire to make the first step towards a horticultural profession. Participants in the course have the chance to work alongside and learn from Ciarán Burke a well known qualified horticulturist, garden writer and lecturer. There are no course fees. There are four places on the course.

Our Inspiration

Turn on the radio, hear the news, morning noon and night, turn on the television news, its the same, bad and really bad news. Like many people we are sick of hearing about how bad things are;  experts speculating and predicting about how much worse things could get. Enough!

I was speaking to a man, he asked what I do. I told him I teach horticulture, that I love gardening, that is is a great life. He told me that he had lost his job, that in his profession there was no hope that he could get a job. He had always been interested in gardening and environmental issues, he decided to re-train. He had applied for a place on a goverment funded horticulture course, but was told that he was over educated and that he would only get a place on a course that would build on his existing skills, not re-train him. So he was unable to get a place on a course that might take him on a new career path, that could change his life and let him train, educate and perhaps get employment in something that really interested him. Sad, true and crazy.

People need hope, encouragement and some help. Horticulture is an area of great potential in Ireland, and in the west of Ireland there is huge scope for building horticultural enterprise, both in ornamental sector and food production. The New Growth Project is our small way that we hope to help some people to help themselves.


The course takes place in a private garden situated close to Charlestown, Co. Mayo. The garden was started about six years ago. In the garden there are a number of different plant habitats and types including meadow, stone scree, dry border, woodland and wetland areas. There are establishing trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials. There are also vegetable and fruit sections and polytunnels.

Times and Duration

The training is held on two days each week, Tuesday and Wednseday, for four hours each day, 10.00 am to 2 pm. The course will start in the first week of March and end the last week of May.


Anyone over the age of 18 and not currently in employment, not taking part in a training programme or in education is entitled to apply. No experience in horticulture is required and no knowledge of gardening is expected.

Successful applicants must show an interest in gardening/nature and be willing to work in an outdoor environment including enduring a little rain. Participants will need to have their own transport.

Course Contents

Through the practical work, instruction and homework participants on the course will learn a number of skills and gain horticultural knowledge over a number of subjects. There will be an opportunity to prepare for and sit one unit of Royal Horticultural Society examinations. Participants will gain a basic understanding of the following:

Propagate and grow new plants from seeds and cuttings

Name a range of plants

Understand how plants grow and their requirements for healthy growth

Grow vegetables and fruit for home use.

Select, places and plant ornamental plants in borders and in the garden

Weed control


Garden layout

Environmental impacts of horticulture and sustainability issues

Use of tools

Organic methods of treating plant problems


Participants on the course will be required to keep a work diary. Each week there will also be a short written assessment to be completed for homework.

At the end of the course there will be the chance to sit one unit of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture examinations. This is not compulsory but it may be the first step to gaining an internationally recognaised qualification in horticulture.

The tutor will assess all course work throughout the duration of the twelve weeks. At the end of the course all work will be verified by an external assessor. A certificate will be issued to everyone who participates fully on the course and completes course work to an acceptable standard.

Course Tutor

Ciarán Burke will be the course tutor. Ciaran is a qualified horticulturist with over twenty years experience including horticultural food production, garden retailing, garden design and horticultural training and education. Ciarán is a well known horticulturist who writes for a number of publications including the Irish Garden magazine and lectures to garden clubs and horticultural societies. He possesses a great plant knowledge and is enthusiastic about growing edible crops and ornamental gardening. Through his work with The Garden School he shares his love for his subject by preparing people for their Royal Horticultural Society examinations.

Applying for the Course

An application form is available from here LINK

Applicants must also send an up to date C.V.

A completed application forma and C.V. must be returned to the address below no later than 22nd February 2012. Final selection may require candidates to be available for an interview.

There are no course fees.

Successful applicants must be prepared to work outdoors and as such have suitable footwear and clothing (e.g. wellington boots, rain proof jacket etc.). participants on the course must be able to work with others as part of a team and be able to take instruction. Successful applications will be expected to be on time each day and full attendance of the course is expected.

Application forms and C.V. should be posted to the address below to arrive NO LATER than 22nd  February 2012.

The New Growth Project

The Garden School




Co. Roscommon

More New Growth

We want The New Growth Project to grow, so that we can provide more training for more people. we would like to build a classroom so that we can accommodate more people on the courses. You can help us raise the money for this by booking a course, buying a t-Shirt or donate to The New Growth Project.

Hobby Gardeners Course

One Day Course in Our Garden

T-Shirts For Gardeners


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