Bicton College Gardening

Why study gardening and horticulture

We are the horticulture volunteers at Bicton College.

To start with, lets sort out what the words ‘gardening‘ and ‘horticulture‘ generally mean:  

  • ‘gardening’ tends to refer to working in a garden eg. pruning, growing fruit, veg, flowers, designing a garden… 
  • ‘horticulture’ tends to refer to the science and theory of why we do something in gardening, eg. talking about the exact way to prune an apple tree, or how to develop the soil before planting seeds

On this page, we will use the word ‘gardening’ –  to mean both gardening and horticulture.

Why choose gardening

As with many things you might choose to do, there are many reasons why you might chose to get into gardening, plus some reasons why it might not suit you.

The time of your life ...

You might be:

  • a school leaver, 16-18 years old
  • a graduate, disillusioned with your choice of degree, wanting to change path
  • a parent, returning to work, wanting to get back into the job market
  • in your 40s, 50s, 60s and/or retired, wanting to re-train

New skills ...

You might be also be any of the above, wanting to learn new skills, for any of the following reasons:
  • as a job
  • to develop a new hobby
  • to enable you to work on your own garden more effective
  • to give you some time and space away from other stuff


Being outside

A lot of gardening work is outside – in the open air, or in a greenhouse/glasshouse – the advantages of this are numerous – breathing fresher air, having your senses stimulated – seeing and hearing wildlife, seeing the colour, smelling the scent, and experiencing the touch of plants …

Bicton College Gardening - Cotoneaster horizontalis

Being active

Gardening tends to involve a lot of physical activity – whether that be planting seeds, digging over flower beds, pushing a wheelbarrow full of soil, weeding …  Being active stimulates our bodies and minds, getting our blood pumping like a mini gym workout, or sometimes like a full-on gym workout – you’ve only got to have shovelled a few spade fulls of compost into a wheelbarrow, or dug over a flower bed for a few minutes to feel like you have had a good workout … and you don’t have to pay for gym membership !

Sense of achievement and a job well-done

With gardening, you may do something which you can start and finish in an afternoon, such as weed a flower bed, or it may take a few days, such as replanting a whole flower bed.  However, even if you are planting seeds and waiting for the young seedlings to grow, you will get a result at some point !  

You will be able to see the fruits of your labour – whether that be a nice clean, weed-free flower bed, a colourful array of plants, or seeds that you have planted growing into young plants – at some point you will see results – and get a sense of achievement.  You will also probably feel a sense of achievement from the exhilaration of having spent a few hours outside, breathing the fresh air and having done some exercise !

Better sense of well-being and mental health

It is now widely recognised that gardening and being outside is good for our mental health (see Garden therapy).   Clearly we are all different, and we all like different environments, and ways of working – some of us like working in offices, some in shops, some outside, some like teaching … 

However, we are all subject to the increasing pressures of our modern lives – checking phones for facebook messages, bombarded with junk email, letter boxes crammed with junk mail, phones with people ringing us up asking us to buy things we are not interested in, pressure to earn more and more money, so that we can buy more and more things, and buy bigger and bigger houses to put that stuff in … more stuff, more to do, less time to do it in … no wonder many of us are feeling overwhelmed.

Gardening can help us cope with our modern busy lives.  It can:

  • give us a change scenery
  • get our bodies moving and working
  • calm us down – green leaves and colourful flowers, tall plants rustling in the wind, beautiful scents, lovely scenery…
  • give us something purposeful to do – we all need to have a purpose – we all need a reason to get up
  • a sense of achievement with our day

Learning about nature

Most of us spend most of our time indoors – separated from the world around us.  As we are becoming increasingly aware, our planet is suffering …  By getting involved in gardening we are getting ourselves more in tune with nature, by spending more time with it.  We are also learning more about the natural environment around us. 

Yes, gardening involves managing and controlling our world, but as we move forward, we are becoming more aware of the responsibility we have to try to look after what is around us, for example by respecting wildlife, reducing our use of pesticides,  and  designing and building sustainable gardens to help conserve water, use of quarried stone, woodlands, and other resources …

This website is for BictonColl Gardening.  We are the horticulture volunteers at Bicton College.  To find out more about horticulture at Bicton, please see the following links:

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Bicton College is part of The Cornwall College Group which offers educational courses to people aged 16 and above.  To find out more about Bicton College and the courses they offer, please see the following links:

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