Blackford Centre for Gardening
Accredited Diploma in Gardening
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it usually take to complete the course?
Students can take up to 18 months to complete the course. But you can do it as quickly or slowly as you want. That's one advantage of distance learning.
Do I need to finish the course within a certain time?
You can take as long as you want. Unlike other organisations, we don't set any time limits.
How much is the course?
You can find the cost of the course by clicking here.
Does the cost for the course include everything I need? Or are there any extra fees?
There are no other costs or fees.
Can I spread the cost of the courses over a period of time?
Yes. You can pay over five months. this costs 20% more. you can find the costs of paying by installments by clicking here.
How could I get my money back if I don't like the course?
Just return the course in good condition within 60 days of receiving it, and we'll send you a full refund.
And if, after seeking work at the end of the course, you don't earn at least the cost of your fees within three months, we'll also refund your fees.
Can I start the course at any time?
Yes. You can start today. Or whenever you want. We don't have fixed starting dates.
Is the course all from home, or do I have to go to a test centre?
It's all from home, but if you want to sit the RHS exam, you have to go to a centre near you. Click here to find how to do this.
I live in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada etc. Is the course suitable for me?
Yes. The course teaches you the principles of horticulture - about the selection, propagation and management of plants. These matters hold true wherever you live. The course will develop your horticultural skills So no matter what your climate zone, you'll benefit from this course.
If you live outside the UK, and you want to sit the RHS exam, click here.
How can I contact my tutor or the Blackford Centre?
There have two types of people you can contact - your tutor and a course advisor.
The tutor marks your work, and helps you with any problems. You can fax, email or post assignments to your tutor, whenever you want.
We don't give out the tutor's phone number, because a few people would spend all day talking to their tutors, who would never get any work done.
But sometimes students get stuck, or have an urgent query. If so, you can phone a course advisor at the Blackford Centre at any time during work hours. If you leave a message out of work hours we'll ring you back the next day. You can contact course advisors as often as you want, and about anything to do with horticulture.
Is the course accredited or endorsed?
Our course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards' Quality Licence Scheme. This means that we have undergone an external quality check to ensure that our organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. ABC Awards' endorsement involves a robust and rigorous quality audit by external inspectors to ensure quality is consistently met. A regular review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 4 Award against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of difficulty involved in successful completion by the learner.
ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual and the Welsh Government. They have a comprehensive portfolio of over 650 Ofqual regulated qualifications on the national Qualifications and Credit framework (QCF). It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries.
At the end of this course successful learners will receive a Certificate of Achievement by ABC Awards and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the details of all the units you have completed as part of your course).
Read more about our course accreditation
We are an Approved Learning Provider for ELCAS. Our Learner Provider Reference number is: 2558. To get to the ELCAS website, click here. To find us, search for our Learner Provider ID, which is 2558.
We are registered with ELCAS under our corporate trading name of 'Home Study Courses Limited'.
Will the course give me credits towards a degree or some other study?
No. But it will increase your horticultural knowledge. And we encourage all students to continue their studies after completing the course.
What qualifications will my tutor have?
All tutors hold the RHS Level 2 qualification. That means they are experienced gardeners who will be able to help you.
Can horticulture be taught, just like accountancy or the law?
Yes. Only it's a lot more fun!
Will the Diploma help me get a job
The course primarily aims to teach you about plants and gardening. In addition, we supply a booklet called 'How to get a job in Horticulture'.
Also, the qualification you get is an ideal way to demonstrate your knowledge. And the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture is the world's foremost qualification for people in the horticultural industry.
Is there a final exam?
If you want, you can sit the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture exam at a college near you. But everyone who completes the course gets our Diploma, without having to sit an exam. That's because the assignments provide continuous assessment of your progress. Click here to find out more about the RHS exam.
What happens if I fail an assignment?
You do the work again! 80% of students complete the course without ever failing an assignment. But you might misunderstand the question, or produce an insufficiently detailed answer. So the tutor will explain the problem and ask you to send in the assignment again. When you do this, your work will be much better.
Can I submit hand-written assignments?
Yes. That's no problem.
Can I submit assignments by E-mail?
Yes. That's no problem.
Can I join the course without prior experience?
Yes. We make no assumptions about people's prior knowledge. But it really helps if you love gardening and have some knowledge of gardening.
Can I tackle the topics in any order I choose?
Yes, you can. So, if you want to tackle a particular topic, you can go straight to that module. This is useful if you have a job or a client that requires you to know about a particular subject. You might note that some other organisations supply only one or two modules at a time.
I haven't studied for years. The thought of returning to study makes me nervous.
Don't worry. We sympathize. But this course is nothing like your memories of being stuck inside a stuffy classroom on a summer's day with an old-style teacher droning on.
For a start, this is a subject that interests you (or you wouldn't have got this far).
And getting this deep into the website shows that you can absorb information and concentrate for long periods of time.
Also, you'll see that we write clearly and simply. And that's how we've written the course materials. It's true that some organisations write long and boring pages that make your eyes glaze over. We promise you that our course is nothing like that. You'll find this course is informative and enjoyable. In fact, many students are almost upset at finishing the course.
Do I get the whole course or individual modules at a time?
We send you the whole course when you enroll. This means you can study any topic you want to. You can also see what topics are coming up. Getting everything in one package makes it easier for you to get an overview of the course. As we mentioned above, some other organisations supply only one or two modules at a time.
How does this course compare with others?
We think this is the best course in the world. Bar none. But please examine other courses before making a decision. Consider these points:
1. Is the course comprehensive?
2. Will your studies be supported by a tutor? Research shows that people succeed much better on courses that include a personal tutor.
3. Is it interactive? That is, do the course materials regularly make you stop and think, and do exercises? Too many courses consist of page after page of boring lecture notes.
4. Is it accredited?
5. Can you get a refund if you don't like the course?
So, how can I find out about other courses?
1. See if any courses are available at your local college or nearby university.
2. Scour the internet. But beware: the are lots of courses of variable quality out there.
Any other questions?
If you have a question, why not email us now? We could add it to our list of FAQs.
How are we different to other providers?
When you start comparing us with other course providers you might notice that:
Some organisations limit the amount of time you have to complete the course. Many course providers only allow you 12 months to complete the course. And after those 12 months are up they may require you to pay a fee to continue. With our course you can take as long as you need, without paying additional fees.
Some organisations will only give you 7 days to return your course if its not right for you. If our course is not what you expected and you want a full refund we allow you 60 days to return it and claim your money back.
Some organisations will charge you an administration fee to return the course. We refund all of your fees.
How can I be sure that you're legitimate, and that you won't disappear with my money?
Here are some answers we hope will reassure you.
We've been in operation since 1995; so we're very established.
We publish our physical address at the bottom of each page - and you are welcome to visit us.
We're audited by ABC twice a year (you can phone them to verify they do that).
You can read the Reviews of our students on the web site.
You can ask us for the contact details of former students who will talk to you about their experiences.
We publish an Ethical statement here.
We're registered at Companies House: registration number 352 4886
Our VAT number is 729 1528 23
Our bank is NatWest, 7 High Street, Wells, Somerset (we have money in the bank and no loans or overdraft).
We're registered with the UK government's Register of Learning Providers (www.ukrlp.co.uk); Number 10009490.
And finally, we love what we do; and we wouldn't do anything to jeopardise it.
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