New Midlands garden considers academic tie-up

Garden manager at Trentham in discussions with horticultural colleges

The garden manager at a new £10 million project is set to discuss partnerships with universities and horticultural colleges. Michael Walker also wants to add a garden academy to Trentham, the Midlands garden attraction that is set to open on 29 May. He has held talks with Staffordshire University, five kilmetres away, and plans to speak to other local institutions. Students will be able to work at the 300ha site. Walker and television gardener Chris Beardshaw are developing the academy idea. Beardshaw will host public events at the garden and lecture to specialist groups. Organisers say the academy will be self-funding. Planning is at an early stage, but courses for “hundreds of people” will be running by “early summer”. A dedicated academy building is also planned for the site. Operations director John Lowther said the college has similarities to Kew but would be more inclusive. Walker could not confirm which professional qualifications will be offered or how many students will study at the college. An advert for gardeners placed by Walker recently in Horticulture Week produced responses from “the cream of the crop” and he is about make appointments from “70 top-quality candidates” from all round the world. Trentham expects to create more than 2,000 new jobs and attract two million visitors a year when fully operational. - Chris Beardshaw will be the main presenter at the British Association of Landscape Industries awards on 12 November.

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