Borders College

Mertoun shares vital practical lessons to Horticulturists

Horticulture studentsMany students learn more ‘doing’ activities and our Horticulturists here at Borders College benefit greatly from the practical side of their studies.

Mertoun Gardens Trust, based in St Boswells, has facilitated College students for a number of years now, allowing the use of their grounds for them to gain first-hand experience in areas such as planting, nurturing and maintaining plants. This includes working in a kitchen walled garden, arboretum and extensive garden area.

Current restrictions have meant that the Horticulturists are unable to attend the estate gardens but an excellent partnership between both organisations has allowed practical lessons to take place virtually, via Microsoft Teams.

A recent hook up with Mertoun’s Head Gardener (Rupert Norris) and Assistant Kitchen Gardener (Jimmy Morton) helped deliver a much-needed lesson around the important tasks carried out in Mertoun Gardens at this time of the year.

Rupert and Jimmy spoke to the students about the problems posed by the recent cold weather and gave some tips on how to protect plants from the elements, as well as tips on the use of organic mulches to aid plant growth in this year’s new growing season.

Getting the conditions right for healthy plant growth is vital to the Gardens and Rupert and Jimmy know better than most how to achieve this. Passing on this knowledge and experience is a great way for the students to learn the trade.

It is also a good opportunity for the students to maintain weekly contact with the Mertoun Garden staff and keep in touch with what seasonal tasks are being carried out. With the hope that when students are allowed to return, they will be up to speed on the progress in the gardens. Rupert has also commented about building a good working relationship with our students and this social interaction is equally as important for the Mertoun Gardens at this very isolating time.

Lecturer Nigel Gibb commented:

“I very much appreciate the weekly contact we have online with the Mertoun Gardens staff. Their input in demonstrating what seasonal tasks they are carrying out on a weekly basis is very important to our students learning. We hope to be back with the team carrying out practical lessons as soon as Covid restrictions are lifted.”

Mertoun Estate is located in the Scottish Borders one mile northeast of St Boswells and has a thriving estate, including let farms, forestry, fishing, let cottages and in-hand farming, along with contract farms. Mertoun House is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland.

As well as a great learning environment, Mertoun Gardens Trust also benefits from the hands-on work carried out by our students, something they have missed over the restricted period. Rupert and Jimmy spoke of how they look forward to welcoming everyone back.

Interested in studying Horticulture at Borders College? If so, click here

Published: Thu 11th Feb, 2021