The education and horticulture teams recently joined forces to deliver a 10 week course for international postgraduate landscape architecture students from ESALA (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture – part of the University of Edinburgh.) Over 50 students with a range of backgrounds and nationalities attended the course which was delivered by 8 RBGE tutors from the education and horticulture departments.

RBGE has a long standing relationship with ESALA and has taught landscape architecture students for many years. The opportunity to study at RBGE is highlighted in ESALA’s international marketing and is a great attraction for students many of whom come from China a country with which RBGE has strong ties.

The combination of soft and hard landscaping materials found at the John Hope Gateway make this area a wonderful landscape design case study for the students

RBGE responded to the explosion in postgraduate student numbers in recent years by developing a bespoke programme which enables individual students in a very large class to receive individual tuition and to experience the delights of the Garden in small groups. ESALA’s clear instruction was to provide each student with a top class learning experience and that’s what the new programme sets out to do. The formula for the programme is a tightly organised set of lectures, walk rounds in the Garden, individual presentations and tutorial sessions. This was developed and choreographed by Monika Polak who said, “Although the logistics are tricky, the combination of dedicated tutors and enthusiastic students makes the programme work like clockwork”.

The Ginkgo bilobas on the fossil lawn remind many of our Chinese students of home.

A vital innovation for this year’s programme was to introduce new tutors to the team from outside the education department. As well as providing the teaching resources needed to handle such a large class, this brought a wider range of experience to the programme which could be passed on to the students. Kate Hughes from horticulture who joined the team this year said, “I really enjoyed the challenge of teaching such a diverse group of students”.

Even when the teaching and tutorial programme finished, the work didn’t stop and Monika and Kate had the task of grading the students’ planting design assignments and giving individual feedback within ESALA’s strict timetable. That work was completed in January and the class achieved a 100% pass rate.

RBGE also delivers 2 undergraduate courses for ESALA which have their own stories!

The team working on this project were:

Education – Greg Kenicer, Monika Polak, Kate White, John Taylor

Horticulture – Kate Hughes, Ben Dell

PhD students – Hannah Wilson, Nadia Russell.