Horticulture Training at the Garden

With around 6000 taxa of plants distributed over 10 different gardens, UBC Botanical Garden is a bona fide source of biodiversity in Vancouver. Helping maintain it is a small army of horticulturists that regularly incorporate new members into their ranks, some of whom come from the Garden’s Horticulture Training Program (HTP). Launched in 2012, it is the only full-time program of its kind in Metro Vancouver north of the Fraser River, and aims to teach the skills necessary to enter the field of horticulture through eight months of instruction, from late summer to spring.

Headed by Chief Educator Egan Davis (BCLNA’s Educator of the Year), the program introduces students to, among other areas, principles and techniques of landscape construction and design, garden ecology, plant biology and health, the role of soil in natural and constructed landscapes, ornamental and food crop management, and hands-on landscape and garden management.

Students of the Horticulture Training Program complete an espalier renovation

Students of the Horticultural Training Program complete an espalier renovation

Graduates of the program are well prepared to apply for entry-level positions with landscaping firms, golf courses, nurseries, and municipal park departments, and also receive credit for the classroom portion of Levels 1 & 2 of the provincial horticulture apprenticeship.

Student learn how to harvest squash seeds

Student learn how to harvest squash seeds

Past alumni have been able to use the program to springboard a successful career in horticulture, from starting their own businesses to working for parks and botanical gardens. Michael Guinness, owner of landscape gardening company Guinness 4 Greens, states that he “learned more about plants and landscape construction than all the other years [he spent working in horticulture] combined. HTP allowed me to really understand how a garden works so I could correct things I was doing wrong and confirm things I had long suspected to be good garden practice.” Innessa Roosen, Horticulture Apprentice with the Vancouver Park Board, mentions that “the teachers are masters of Horticulture and deliver the necessary curriculum with great detail and enthusiasm. I use the skills I learned in HTP everyday in my job with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.”

Nicholas Demers, who now works as a horticulturist at the Garden after completing the HTP, was new to the industry when he decided to embark on the program, but credits it giving him “the knowledge and training required to pursue [this] career”. He mentions the construction of a new staircase as a particularly memorable experience, and one that is also representative of the kind of hands-on, practical training students receive. “It was a lot of hard work” Nicholas says. “Over 10,000lbs of basalt stairs. The class really came together under Egan and Kerrie and did an amazing job. It was a great moment laying that last step.”

The first class of Horticultural Training Program students and staff members

The first class of Horticulture Training Program students and staff members

The Horticulture Training Program is holding free information sessions on March 15 and April 12 at UBC Botanical Garden.

2 responses to “Horticulture Training at the Garden”

  1. Garden Marketing

    Hi Tricia – thanks for your email. While we don’t specifically have horticultural courses for retirees, we will be hosting many workshops, tours and special events this spring and summer, so be sure to check the website for something that suits you (we are slowly populating the “Events” section of our website for spring/summer). Have you ever considered becoming a Friend of the Garden? FOGs get to work in the Shop, propagate plants in the Nursery, go on field trips, listen to guest speakers and take part in special tours. It’s a great way to stay involved with the Garden while making lifelong friends who also love gardening. Check out the “Friends of the Garden” page for more information.

  2. Tricia

    Do you offer a course for retirees looking for the knowledge but perhaps not able to fully participate in the labor…….I have been a home gardener for 50 years and am very aware of my knowledge gaps. I love the botanical gardens at UBC and any time spent there learning and understanding would be time well spent.

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