Richard Jackson’s Garden contributor nominated for prestigious award

When Debi Holland decided a career change was in order, little did she know where her hard earned RHS Certificate would take her

Taking a brave decision to move careers and retrain, she chose one of the RHS Diploma courses to give her the skills she needed, studying theory at Bristol Botanic Gardens and practical skills at the Cannington Walled Garden (part of Bridgwater & Taunton College). She juggled bringing up her son with gardening all day and studying all night, completely submersing herself in horticulture.

Debi Holland studied at Cannington College with John Addison

New business

Four years later, Debi is now running her own very successful gardening business, writing for our award winning website and she has been nominated by the RHS for Learner of the Year in the FAB awards (Federation of Awarding Bodies). The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) awards recognises outstanding achievement for learners who have demonstrated an enthusiasm for learning and developed a high level of understanding and skill in their industry. 

Further education

Debi studied the RHS Level 2 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture. It is a highly respected and recognised benchmark in horticulture and gave her the right foundation for her future business plan. “I enrolled on the course with some horticultural knowledge but once I’d started it, I was really surprised how little I really knew and how wide the scope of the course covered. My biggest concerns were the botanical names and how to spell them.” She quickly tuned into the classification system and even surprised herself by mastering the Latin names too.

Learning about pruning at Cannington College

The Royal Horticultural Society Qualifications team were impressed. “Debi participated in every class and felt the practical and theory elements complimented each other. Her passion and application for learning are demonstrated in that she passed all eight of her examinations first time, and achieved commendations in three of them.

Debi learned many skills volunteering at Tyntesfield Walled Garden

While studying for the qualification, Debi sought hands-on professional experience and secured a volunteer role at a National Trust Property, she wanted to surpass her capability and broaden her skills set. Working alongside professional gardeners allowed her to experience what she was ultimately aiming for, her own professional gardening business. Debi explains “all your theoretical knowledge is put into context; you get your hands dirty and actually action what you have learnt in theory.”

Star pupil

The RHS said; “Your journey was truly inspiring and your determination to set up a thriving business from scratch in Somerset was amazing. In addition we are overwhelmed with your blogs and photography and how you inspire others through your own passion and experiences.” “I was completely blown away, humbled, speechless and ecstatic in equal measures!” said Debi. And even though she wasn’t shortlisted she feels very honoured to have been selected by the RHS. Debi now runs here own gardening business in Somerset and has a wide client base with a long waiting list of potential clients hoping to be able to tap into Debi’s new found knowledge and highly regarded skills and services. You can read more about it here on Debi’s website.


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