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Kew Modular Certificate in glasshouse display practices: Princess of Wales Conservatory

Inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory
Inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory

Course duration:

The course takes place during April to June

Introduction:

The Princess of Wales Conservatory

The Princess of Wales Conservatory (PoWC) was commissioned in 1982 and is the most complex conservatory at Kew.

It contains ten computer-controlled climatic zones under one roof. There are sensors located on the glasshouse walls and secreted about the beds which feed environmental information back to the conservatory’s central computer. This switches on heat flows, opens vents to allow in cool air or prompts mist sprays to operate, until the pre-set conditions required for each climatic zone are met.

There are two main climate zones within the PoWC these are the ‘dry tropics’, representing the world’s warm, arid areas, and the ‘wet tropics’, housing moisture loving plants from ecosystems such as rainforests and mangrove swamps. The eight remaining microclimates include a seasonally dry zone containing desert and savannah plants, plus sections for carnivorous plants, ferns and orchids.

The southern end is heated more by the sun than the northern end, so this is where you will find towering spikes of echiums and silver agaves from dry tropical regions such as the arid Canary Islands. The central area contains a small aquaria, complete with waterlily pond and the dangling roots of mangroves, plus displays of orchids and carnivorous plants. At the northern end are species from temperate Australia, and fern zones.

During this period the skills learned will include:

  • plant husbandry and monitoring of individual requirements at species level
  • monitoring and manual irrigation specific to the collection
  • planting out for display purposes
  • pruning operations for growth control and plant health
  • bio-control introduction within an Integrated Pest Management system
  • mulching for weed suppression and water retention
  • fertilisation for optimal growth and recognition of nutritional deficiencies
  • aquatic plant care
  • general cleaning and daily display maintenance including bed preparation, leaf picking, small pruning and thinning out
  • seasonal display planting

Underpinning knowledge:

This will be delivered via a series of walks/talks, handouts, and individual research and will look at how the environment within the Princess of Wales Conservatory is created and maintained (building structure and control systems for heating, venting, irrigation and misting), plant nutrition, pest and disease recognition and control, plant growth/adaptions and general glasshouse maintenance.

Course work:

Candidates will be required to undertake an in-depth Horticultural Management report on an area within the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Eligibility:

Candidates must have at least 6 months of practical experience in a professional horticultural environment. Be able to communicate in both written and spoken English.

In order to attend these courses at Kew, students from outside the European Economic Area will need to apply for a visa from the UK Border Agency to enter the UK.

Cost and Application:

See information on cost and application