Gardening, even that practiced at an amateur level, requires a wealth of theoretical and practical knowledge that can be acquired through the attendance of specific courses provided by different types of public and private structures.
Basics of plant physiology, pruning and propagation techniques, design and construction of gardens and terraces, urban horticulture are just some of the disciplines treated in order to train and often update both self-taught DIY enthusiasts and professional gardeners.
Who delivers them
The structures that organize gardening courses are quite diversified, giving life to a training offer aimed at satisfying the different needs. On the one hand we will have structures or even individual professionals who mainly turn to a public of gardening enthusiasts, through the organization of amateur gardening courses, and on the other training institutions, public and private, which articulate basic courses or update, aimed at creating precise professional figures.
At the end of the professionalizing courses and following a specific exam, a certificate recognized by the current regulations and expendable at national level can be achieved. In all other cases, participants will be issued a simple certificate of attendance, if requested.
The amateur gardening courses are organized by groups of professionals, specialized nurseries and specific cultural associations, operating at a local level or forming part of networks distributed on a national scale, such as the centers of the Union Garden Club.
In recent years, in order to make citizens aware of the respect and care of the green, interesting gardening courses are organized by municipal administrations or simple district districts.
More professional courses are provided by prestigious gardening schools, such as two specialized facilities based in Florence: the Landscapes and Gardens Association and the Tuscan Horticulture Society. Also the agricultural schools are active in this sector. These include the Monza Park Agricultural School.
In addition to some vocational training institutions, recognized by the respective regional administrations to which they belong, there are also trade associations, such as Federfiori.
This type of course includes a limited commitment in terms of hours of attendance (9 - 30 hours). Participation in the courses, in general, in addition to the cost of the lessons, includes an annual fee for enrollment in the cultural association that supplies them. It should be emphasized that some of these associations, through membership, allow for further reductions and discounts for activities organized during the year, including guided visits to parks and gardens in Italy and abroad.
Attendance does not require special previous skills. However, basic II level courses may be required, which require wider knowledge on the topics covered. Articulated on weekends, and in some cases even in the evening hours, they allow a comfortable and wide participation.
The didactic approach has a more practical than theoretical slant, often involving field exercises, visits to private affiliated companies or in nurseries. The issues addressed are quite varied and particularly useful, especially as regards the different pruning techniques to be adopted for ornamental or fruit plants. Fertilization principles and techniques, plant propagation, cultivation and care of bonsai, implementation and maintenance of lawns, in addition to the specific techniques of cultivation and care of the different types of flowering plants are all topics frequently treated and enriched with fruitful advice and little tricks of the trade, not always available in the bibliography of self-taught enthusiasts.
This type of course, lasting 1 or 2 years, is particularly demanding both in economic terms and in frequency (100 - 200 hours), but, if provided by recognized bodies, allows the achievement of the professional gardener certificate. The training courses provide two different skills: one for general maintenance of parks and gardens and another for specialized design, set-up and maintenance of gardens.
The required participation requirement is generally the lower secondary school diploma. In the event that the course is financed by the public bodies in charge of vocational training, the cost is rather low, if not entirely borne by the institutions.
Organized in modules, they include a broad discussion of the theoretical bases of gardening activities and plant physiology and botany. Design related courses also include the acquisition of theoretical and practical knowledge on support software.
Alongside the basic courses there are refresher or in-depth courses on specific topics, such as tree climbing, types of irrigation systems, architectural elements (fountains and water features, ponds, walkways), roof gardens and terraces, lighting, new design software.
Gardening courses: Distance learning courses online
Through a particular type of training approach, successfully developed in other educational areas, e-learning is being tested also for what concerns gardening.
The student, by accessing an Internet portal, can participate in the course directly from home and in the free hours available.
The lessons, accompanied by directly downloadable educational material, can be comfortably reviewed as part of the archive of the page dedicated to the student.
The disciplines of the online courses will be the same as those provided for the frontal courses, although, evidently, the effectiveness of practical exercises in the field will be lacking.
In support of the student, in general, the figure of a tutor is provided to whom to contact and who will follow him throughout the whole of this innovative training course.