Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) students were feeling chipper after taking part in Reaseheath’s First Early Potato Show, held in our Centre for Horticulture, the Environment and Sustainable Technology.

Thirty seven RHS Level 2 Practical students demonstrated their skills at growing the world’s favourite root vegetable – and were rewarded with praise from one of the county’s top vegetable judges.

The students, who attend college one day a week, learn practical horticultural techniques which include how to successfully sow and plant vegetables and how to prepare them for exhibition. Course Manager Anne Harrison hopes that their new knowledge will encourage the students to support the fruit and vegetable shows run within their local communities.

Twenty different cultivars of first early potatoes, some old varieties and some new, were on show. All had been grown on plots on campus.

The competition was judged by Derek Jones of Malpas, a well known vegetable exhibitor, judge, horticulturist and historian. He explained: “I was looking for four potatoes which were equally matched in shape, size and colour. They had to be of good quality, of uniform shape, well prepared and typical of the variety.

“This is a real test of gardening skills and the students did exceptionally well, particularly as the growing conditions haven’t been ideal.”

RHS Master of Horticulture Harry Delaney supported the show and presented the prizes.


Best in Show Phaedra Hardstaff (Ulster Sceptre)

Monday Group

1st Phaedra Hardstaff (Ulster Sceptre)

2nd Patricia Shuler (Rocket)

3rd Joy Ryder (Swift)

Friday Group

Ist Hannah Bird (Casablanca)

2nd Jennifer Quinlan (Maris Bard)

3rd  Debbie Holden (Colleen)

Around 100 part-time students gain RHS qualifications at Reaseheath each year. The students, who travel in from as far as North Wales, Merseyside and Lancashire, include professional horticulturists, career changers and leisure gardeners.

Reaseheath is an RHS training and examination centre and offers theory and practical qualifications at Levels 2 and 3. A high proportion of students complete both the Level 2 practical and theory qualifications, which combine into the well recognised L2 Diploma in Horticulture.

As well as learning traditional skills, students are introduced to the latest technology in food production and plant growing techniques and also enjoy visits to nationally acclaimed gardens.

For further details on RHS courses visit