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  • Writer's pictureCheri LaMay

New Garden Design Course at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

I am delighted to have been invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to deliver a six day course for those interested in garden design at RHS Garden Harlow Carr. The aim is that the course will inspire you to have a go at designing your own garden and also will offer those who are considering a longer course in garden design a taste of the profession. The course is for absolute beginners and will run twice a year (dates are at the end of this blog).

One of the most exciting things about teaching garden design is the human interaction around gardens. In many respects the way people perceive and use a space brings meaning to the space. Of course there is profound meaning to a garden if plants grow in it and birds flit around collecting seeds and making nests and so forth. But perhaps as humans, by perceiving and understanding that this is happening, and by also influencing what is happening by gardening and designing in a thoughtful, careful way, we bring another fine layer of meaning? And to exchange ideas about how a garden can be made is an invigorating thing. And to have the pleasure of doing this exchange of ideas in a garden, well, don’t get me started!

June 2015 04

Nectaroscordum siculum and Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata “Black Barlow” in a Leeds garden designed by the author, Cheri LaMay trading as Earthworks Garden Design. Image copyright Cheri LaMay 2015

During the course we will use the cosy and award winning Bramall Learning Centre as our base where we will be learning through doing, discussion and some demonstration. We will also be outside at RHS Harlow Carr investigating, scrutinizing and interpreting the gardens to gain an understanding of the use of plants, materials, shape, form and colour and also the unique and sometimes elusive “Spirit of Place”. We will build our confidence, and connect with our creativity, seeing the garden with fresh eyes. Working together we will nurture a safe environment where everyone is comfortable sharing their own understanding and experience, so it becomes a process of learning by helping each other. I hope that through this process our understanding will grow and we will have the skills to make a well resolved design for our own garden project.

Bramall Learning Centre

The course will be based at the Bramall Learning Centre at RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Here we see the centre framed by Betula utilis “Jacquemontii” and Cornus sanguinea “Midwinter Fire” in the Winter Walk, photographed December 2015.

The second very exciting thing about teaching any activity is the de-constructing of it and looking at the component parts. Generally speaking I spend forty hours a week designing gardens and I love it to pieces! At the same time, doing anything a lot can become routine. By looking at each part of my work and remembering the purpose if it, my own work becomes more authentic.

Garden Design
Here is an example of the author’s garden design work. These seating areas connected by paths of cobbles and stone chippings were designed as part of a series of spaces in a private garden near Harrogate. Image copyright Cheri LaMay 2015.

My credentials, in case you are wondering: As well as having been a qualified freelance garden designer for fifteen years (see my portfolio at, I have three years experience of teaching on the Foundation Degree in Garden Design at Craven College, and also a Post Graduate Certificate in Education.

The six day course “An Introduction to Garden Design” will run once more in 2018 on the following  Saturdays: 8th September; 15th September; 22nd September; 29th September; 6th October; and 20th October.

The course code is 14552, and the cost is £366 for RHS Members, £432 for Non-RHS Members.

To book call the RHS at 020 3176 5830 or if you have any questions about the content or suitability of the course for you email me at Please get in touch, I would love to hear from you!

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