Jamie Butterworth

Horticulture students take a leaf from inspiring young garden designer

Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture students are learning from one of the industry’s rising stars, award winning plantsman and horticulturist Jamie Butterworth, thanks to a collaboration between Reaseheath and Wedgwood, the leading fine china producer.

A flavour of fruit growing at annual apple festival

Hundreds of local families got a real flavour of fruit growing at Reaseheath College’s popular apple festival over the weekend.

Our horticulture students  demonstrating apple pressing

Our horticulture students demonstrating apple pressing

The fruity festival, held at the Nantwich college as part of a national celebration of the English apple, featured 115 rare varieties of apples, some dating back to Roman times and some of more recent origin.

Horticultural experts Derek Jones and Harry Delaney were on hand to identify apple varieties, answer queries on the production of apples and other fruits and offered advice on the selection, growth, pruning and propagation of fruit trees.

Many visitors arrived with fruit and foliage for identification or brought in their own apples for juicing. Tours of the College’s fruit garden were delivered by former horticulture student Philip Swift, whilst Reaseheath’s current cohort of Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) students set up and helped to man the festival. Many of the apples on show were donated by Elizabeth Gentil, widow of Tony Gentil, Reaseheath’s former Deputy Head of Horticulture or came from Reaseheath’s own fruit orchard.

The festival, being held at Reaseheath for the 24th consecutive year, was aimed at encouraging gardeners to preserve old varieties of apples and soft fruit by growing them in their own gardens.

Explained Harry Delaney: “The English apple is part of our national heritage and though some species have been lost forever, the festival gives us the chance to think about the huge number of varieties we have left and how we ought to preserve them.

“This event is becoming busier each year. Lots of local families are interested in identifying and learning how to care for the old fruit trees they have inherited, or want to plant new trees in their gardens.”

Reaseheath College is offering day courses in pruning and grafting over the winter months and also has fruit trees for sale now. For further details contact 01270 613211 or

Talented landscaper to represent GB in world finals

Talented Reaseheath College trained landscape gardener Matt Beesley is to represent Britain in the WorldSkills finals in São Paulo, Brazil.

Matt, who heard of his selection last week, joins the GB squad to contest the global, Olympics style final, which runs from 11 – 16 August.

WorldSkills runs the competition bi-annually for students aged 23 and under to showcase the skills and value of young professionals in worldwide industries ranging from construction, engineering technology and transportation to IT and communications and social and personal services.

Off to Sao Paulo: Matt Beesley

Off to Sao Paulo: Matt Beesley

Matt, 21, completed his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture in 2012. He now runs his own successful business, Beesley’s Landscapes in Winsford, and employs two apprentices. He first competed in the British selection rounds for WorldSkills while a Reaseheath student and has continued to train intensively as a potential squad member, narrowly missing selection for the world finals in Germany in 2013.

In São Paulo he will be one of two British landscapers who will test their skills and stamina in hard landscaping, plant knowledge and management against the world’s best.

The former Hartford High School pupil said: “Competing and training on the WorldSkills programme has been a fantastic experience for me. I have learned so much and gained such a lot of confidence. I’d particularly like to thank my hard landscape instructor at Reaseheath, Jason Hinks, for his support. I’m now totally focused on the world finals. It would be awesome to bring back a medal.”

Said Jason: “I’m really proud of Matt and how he’s developed as a professional landscaper through WorldSkills. This programme is all about benefiting the students through training and helping them to realise their potential.”

WorldSkills UK heat tests landscaping skills

Future garden landscapers demonstrated their skills at the north west regional heat of the WorldSkills UK competition, run on campus last week.

Horticultural students and apprentices from across the region, including six of our own students, took part in the knock-out heat which was run by the Association of Professional Landscapers.

Following a similar elimination round in the south of the country, the highest scoring students will go to the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park for further training and to get used to appearing in front of big crowds. This year’s final will be held at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham in the autumn.

The competitors had to build a decked unit in a timed session and were marked on the quality of their work and attention to detail. We put forward Level 3 Extended Diploma Horticulture students India Hill, Jay Hevingham and Finin Talbot (from Year 1) and Joshua Camm and Christopher Shore (from Year 2). Last year’s finalist Richard Carden also took part.

The students have been preparing for the competition this term thanks to the efforts of hard landscape tutor Jason Hinks. They will hear who has been selected for the next round in May.

Jodie Lithgard, lead judge and trainer said: “The competitors produced work to a good standard. This is very pleasing as we are putting all our efforts into increasing the standard of skills coming into the industry.”

WorldSkills UK feeds into the Olympic-styled Worlds Skills final, held every two years to showcase the world’s top young talent in vocational industries.

Former Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture student Matt Beesley, 21, is in the final selection for this year’s international squad which will represent GB in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August.

Matt, has progressed to become Director of Beesley’s Landscapes and employs two apprentices, both of whom took part in Reaseheath’s regional heat. Matt built a garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year alongside Jodie Lidgard and this year will partner garden designer Sharon Hockenhull in the build of the ‘Light Catcher’ visionary garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

To find out more about our horticulture courses visit

Reaseheath student wins award for floodplain orchard

Reaseheath College undergraduate Daniel Ackerley has won a national award with his flood plain orchard.

Daniel, who is studying for his Foundation Degree in Countryside, Conservation and Recreation at the Nantwich college, was a runner-up in The Conservation Foundation’s ‘Gardening Against the Odds’ Awards.

The annual competition seeks out horticultural projects which are inspirational in their own right, which benefit people who face physical, mental or environmental ’odds’ and which can also offer wider benefits to the community.

Daniel, who lives in Vicars Cross, Chester, successfully grows over 100 fruit trees near the River Dee in Farndon despite the land being flooded with up to six feet of water during the winter.

He has planted the two acre plot with unusual and heritage varieties of fruit trees including apples, pears, plums, quince, mulberries, walnuts and hazelnuts, some dating back to Roman times. He is also growing endangered native black poplar and elm trees which he is monitoring as part of national programmes to grow disease resistant species.

As the plot adjoins a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Daniel manages the orchard to provide diverse habitat for wildlife and hopes that as it matures it could be used to educate young people in conservation methods.

He also hopes to increase his involvement in community activities, as the orchard is near Holt’s medieval castle and is on a popular walking route around Farndon and Holt.

The 46 year-old engineer, who had to retire prematurely from his work on off shore oil rigs due to Crohn’s Disease, has found that the project and his college course has given him an alternative focus.

Passionately interested in conservation and in garden history, Daniel decided to go ahead with his orchard once he realised that a similar scheme nearby had been successful centuries ago despite being regularly flooded.

Daniel receives his certificate from actress Susan Hampshire

Daniel receives his certificate from actress Susan Hampshire

He said: “Having an underwater orchard might seem a bit strange but the knowledge that it’s worked in the past gave me the confidence to go ahead. My college course has enabled me to carry out the project scientifically and in a structured way, using both traditional and modern techniques.

“Basically I’m trying to retain a vestige of medieval field system which is surrounded by modern agriculture. To do this successfully I need a good understanding of science and current legislation as well as practical skills.

“I was surprised and delighted to make the judges’ selection for the ‘Gardening Against the Odds’ award. The whole event was extremely positive. All finalists were selected because their projects were outward looking and went beyond their own boundaries.”

The Conservation Foundation Director David Shreeve said: “Daniel is a great example of what the ‘Gardening Against the Odds’ awards are all about. The judges were really impressed with his story and what he is doing.

“Susan Hampshire, a keen fruit grower herself, described it as an inspired use of space, growing trees and producing fruit.”

The finals of the prestigious competition were held on Wednesday at a gala tea party at Syon House in London.

Find out more about the Foundation Degree in Countryside, Conservation and Recreation.


Growing careers in horticulture

Young Horticulturalist of the Year regional winner with Reaseheath's Sarah Hopkinson

Young Horticulturist of the Year regional winner with Reaseheath’s Sarah Hopkinson

Professional horticulturists, careers advisers, students and prospective students packed into Reaseheath’s lecture theatre recently for first North West Grow Careers event.

The day commenced with an introduction to horticulture for career advisers by Chartered Institute of Horticulture Branch Chair, Sue Nicholas, followed by Reaseheath’s Curriculum Area Manager, Sarah Hopkinson, who provided an insight in to the horticulture department’s offering and the new Nation Centre for Food Futures at Reaseheath. The afternoon saw eight industry speakers from the design, landscaping, commercial production and management sectors of horticulture discuss their careers and businesses.

Speakers included: multi RHS gold medalist designer Pip Probert; Phil Pearson from APS Salads (the largest supplier of tomatoes to Tesco); Faye Steer, Deputy Head Gardener for Chatsworth House; Lee Webster from The Landscape Group and former Reaseheath student Sue Beesley, who is also the owner of Blue Cottage Gardens and Nursery.

The speakers highlighted a wide range of career opportunities within the horticulture industry, with many urging the keen audience to pursue a career in horticulture and fill the gaps in specialist knowledge and skills.

Sue Beesley shares her career journey through the horticulture industry

Sue Beesley shares her career journey through the horticulture industry

The Landscape Group actively promoted opportunities within their business including discussing their Greener Graduate programme – with many students registering their interest on the day!

The Grow Careers event was organised in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH) and was followed in the evening by the CIH Young Horticulturist of the Year competition regional final, hosted by the horticulture department.



By Craig Bailey, Reaseheath Lecturer in Horticulture and Course Manager for FdSc Garden and Landscape Design 




Fantastic success for Reaseheath at WorldSkills UK

Reaseheath florist Anna Eite is officially the most talented student florist in Britain after winning gold at the WorldSkills UK national finals this weekend.

Anna Eite competing

Anna competing

Anna took the top title in the advanced section against strong competition from the best students from colleges and training providers nationwide. The taxing competition was held over three days in front of thousands of visitors to The Skills Show in Birmingham, the country’s biggest showcase of vocational skills and careers.

Anna had to complete five tasks which included designing a floral hat, belt and chair, making up a planted container and taking part in a team project.

Anna, 21, is a Level 3 Diploma in Floristry student and has been supported and trained by Programme Leader for Floristry Sue Poole. Said Sue: “This was a fantastic result and we are all so proud of Anna. She was a wonderful representative for Reaseheath and for the floristry department.”

Richard Carden chats to lead judge Jody Lidgard

Richard chats to lead judge Jody Lidgard

Unfortunately Anna will be over the 22 years age limit for the WorldSkills final in Abu Dhabi in 2017 and will not be considered for the WorldSkills GB team for Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015 as this squad has already been selected.

Anna will represent us at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015, however, as she was on the student team which won the RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year Competition this summer. This title made us eligible for the national final at Chelsea.

Our horticulture department was also proud to support Richard Carden as he battled it out in the WorldSkills UK garden landscape finals. Although Richard, a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture student, didn’t win a medal he was one of just six students to be selected for the national finals. He met the challenge to build a 2m x 6m garden designed by award winning designer Alexandra Froggatt.

Course Manager Tracy Walker said: “Richard did a fantastic job considering the pressure he was under to perform at the very highest level.”

You find out more information about our floristry and horticulture courses on our website.

It’s party time for Cheshire Gardens of Distinction!

Happy tenth birthday to Cheshire Gardens of Distinction! This formidable organisation, which represents the county’s greatest gardens, celebrated its anniversary in style at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park on Wednesday 23rd July with a wonderful cake made by Reaseheath’s Bakery and Patisserie Department. Performances by the Hub Dancers and medieval musician Tom Hughes were also part of the party.

Tracey Walker and Sam YoudCGoD’s stand showcases gardens from eight of its members: Arley Hall, Adlington Hall, Biddulph Grange, Cholmondeley Castle, Fryers Roses of Knutsford, Norton Priory, Bluebell Cottage Gardens and the Cheshire Gardens Trust. Each garden features ‘The Rose of Distinction’, a new floribunda rose launched by Fryers Roses to celebrate the group’s tenth birthday.

Reaseheath horticulture lecturer Tracey Walker has co-ordinated the stand which is in the ‘Inspire’ zone, an area dedicated to cutting edge design and fresh ideas. And as a ‘thank you’ she was presented with a beautiful rose bush by CGoD chair Sam Youd, former head gardener at Tatton Park.

Earlier in the day, part of ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ was presented from the stand. You can watch the broadcast again here, the stand features at both 43 minutes and 1 hour 29 minutes into the programme.

Cheshire Gardens of Distinction is at Inspire 149 at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, which runs until Sunday July 27th.


Good luck Richard!

Talented Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture Richard Carden is representing Reaseheath in the WorldSkills UK Landscape Gardening Semi Finals at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

He is one of six students challenged to build a 2m x 6m garden designed by award winning designer Alexandra Froggatt.

Competition entries were the highest yet and Richard successfully completed a theory test and tie-breaker exercise to claim his place in the semi-finals. The competitors have three days to complete their gardens, with the results being announced on Friday.

The judges are Association of Professional Landscapers chairman Mark Gregory, garden designer and four times RHS gold medal winner Adam Frost, landscape firm owner Jody Lidgard and 2011 WorldSkillsUK medal winner Simon Abbott.

Winners from the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park will compete at the WorldSkills UK finals, to be held at The Skills Show, Birmingham NEC, in November. There they will fight for the national title in front of 70,000 people and will also be in the running for selection for the international WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, next year.

Reaseheath’s show garden adds flavour to RHS Flower Show

A truly edible show garden, A Taste of Wythenshawe celebrates the success of community health and welfare programmes led by sponsors the Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (WCHG).

Designed and built by Foundation Degree Garden and Landscape Design students from Reaseheath College and on display next week at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, the garden incorporates innovative and creative approaches to growing edible plants suitable for a 21st century urban community.

Its inspiration is Real Food Wythenshawe, a five year £1 million Big Lottery-funded community food campaign led by WCHG which promotes ways that people can grow their own fruit and vegetables and cook healthy, economical meals.

After the show the garden will be rebuilt in Wythenshawe Park, where it will be shared by the local community. The re-instatement will be carried out by members of the Turnaround team, a programme developed by WCHG to offer training and potentially employment opportunities to those with criminal records.

All team members have been trained by Reaseheath College and have successfully gained their NPTC Level 2 horticulture award. One member, Stephen Cleator, is now employed in WCHG’s grounds maintenance department.

The Turnaround team assisted in the show build and the local community were involved in pre-show planning and development.

Said WCHG Chief Executive Nigel Wilson: “The Real Food Wythenshawe campaign supports and encourages residents to take control over what they and their families eat. It demonstrates that healthy eating is possible for everyone, regardless of age, budget, ability or time constraints. In the same way, the garden promotes growing and eating home grown produce and, at the same time, reducing food miles and carbon footprint.

“We are delighted to be partnering Reaseheath College with this innovative show garden and even more excited about the prospect of bringing it back home to Wythenshawe. The icing on the cake, for us, is that the Turnaround team are playing a central role in this truly community based project.”

A Taste of Wythenshawe is in the Feast zone, an area which celebrates fresh produce and the joy of growing and cooking home grown food. Cookery demonstrations will take place in the zone using vegetables and fruit from the plot.

The garden design uses interlocking segments to form a crescent shape which mirrors the layout of Wythenshawe’s original garden city. It reflects the concept of the ‘three magnets’: Countryside as an edible ‘forest garden’, Town as a community seat and eat area and Town/Country, a community garden combining edible and ornamental planting. Tramlines represent the connection of Wythenshawe to Manchester through expansion of the Metrolink.

Hydroponics, an aeroponic tower and sculptural features such as rebar trees made by Reaseheath’s Engineering Department offer opportunities for vertical growing to save space and water.Food foraging is promoted through an edible meadow, a foraging forest, a herb living wall, a salad table and a traditional allotment with chicken coup. Pollinating insects, especially bees, are encouraged by a wide variety of pollinator plants and recycled materials are used wherever possible.

The design and build team are students who have just completed their Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design. Most are returning to college for a further year’s study to complete their BSc Landscape Design and Management.


For further details of RHS Flower Show Tatton Park see

For further details of Reaseheath’s horticulture courses see