RHS Wisley Garden, England Sweet Pea Trial, May 2012
With the aid of the travel scholarships that I received as part of the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2011 2nd placement led me to travel for 12 weeks across 5 countries. The insights, observations and experiences that I was awarded were absolutely life changing. The skills and knowledge that I gained as well as those that I shared installed in me clarity, understanding and confidence. Without the support of the sponsors or the challenge of the Young Hort Competition I would never have had such an opportunity; so thank you very much.
In May 2012 I entered into the Voluntary Internship Programme at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Wisley in England for a placement of 6 weeks. My specific placement saw me become part of the Trials Department on the Trials Field.
The scope and intensity of this department saw me cover a lot of new horticultural skills as well as being exposed to the judging committees and scientific teams. The trials covered both field and poly-tunnels. Field trials consisted of vegetable (lettuce), fruit (currants, tomatoes), herbs (lettuce, basil, parsley) and ornamental plants (Dahlia, Phlox, Campanulata & Clematis).
I was very fortunate to attend the Chelsea Flower Show. This was an amazing opportunity and a dream come true. The highlight for me; apart from the amazing scope of the displays; was the Artisan Garden exhibits. The flower show was a great international experience that tied in horticulture, innovation and amazing design.
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, June 2012
In June I travelled down to Cornwall, England and had a dream come true! I went to both the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The Eden Project was a truly inspiring encounter. The biomes and the ecosystems inside them really do challenge our 21st ways of thinking. The Lost Gardens of Heligan was just as effective in the complete opposite way; shrouded in history and mystery with amazing plant habits and varieties.
I then travelled to Scotland and had a personalised tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. I saw some amazing biblical gardens as well as castles; but sadly no Loch Ness monster! I was lucky enough to travel right up to the Isle of Skye and through the Lochalsh National Park where the scenery is truly picturesque.
I then caught the ferry across to Northern Ireland and visited both the Belfast Botanic Gardens as well as the amazing Giant’s Causeway. The train ride from Belfast down to Southern Ireland was colorful; both in people and scenery. The Dublin Botanic Gardens was spectacularly presented with such high standards and great plant collections.
Chateau des Ravalet, Tourleville, France, July 2012
The ferry crossing between Ireland and France took 18 hours; but was well worth it. The use of New Zealand native plants in public spaces was over overwhelming and nostalgic. I travelled right from the top to the bottom of France in the hope of reaching Spain; but sadly that will have to be at another time. The old castles, the chateaus and the national parks were very well presented and maintained. Bayonne Botanic Garden is so far the smallest botanic garden I have ever seen but it truly packed a punch. I was lucky enough to have 2 days in Paris and got to see some great landmarks (the Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame amongst many others).
After a little over a week I then flew to Vancouver, Canada. The main objective for me was to look at British Colombia’s native plants and gardens. I visited many of Vancouver’s natural highlights including Lynn Canon, Stanley Park and Kelowna Valley. I visited Van Dusen Botanical Garden, University of British Columbia Botanic Garden & Burchardt Gardens. I walked across a suspension bridge, saw a moose, ate bush tucker, and found some endangered orchids
I returned to Aotearoa 12 weeks later; refreshed, passionate, and committed. This experience has given me more than words can say. Fundamentally I was deeply inspired, gained much better understanding, clarity and confidence as well as friends for life. It has further reinforced that I am definitely committed to amenity horticulture and public green spaces, and I intend to be for some time yet!
Thank you all so much,
Second Place - 2011 NZ Young Horticulturalist of the Year
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