Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Retail Nursery)

Horticultural Correspondence School Distance Education Courses for plant propagation, garden centre management and plant nursery production; learning practical garden and horticulture skills either online, by correspondence study.

Course Code: VBS001
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Study, Learn, and Work in A Garden Centre or Retail Nursery

  • Suitable for both newcomers and people already working in the industry
  • Start your Own Business
  • Seek employment in the Nursery Industry
  • Improve your skills and advance your career

Retail plant nurseries may be stand alone businesses, selling nothing but plants; but more often than not they are part of a larger enterprise, for example:

  • A business that propagates and grows on a specialist type of plant; and sells those plants in bulk (wholesale) to the trade, as well as individually  at a retail price to the general public.
  • A garden centre that buys in plants from production nurseries, along with associated garden products from allied traders (eg. pots, soil, fertilisers etc); and retails those to the general public.
  • A department or section within a larger business such as a hardware store, landscape materials supplier or florist.

Retail nurseries can be small or large. They may start as a part time stand at a weekend market, or selling plants off the road where you live (if planning laws allow). At the other end of the scale, they can be multi million dollar businesses, with all sorts of other sideline businesses attached, from a coffee shop and pet supply to a home wares showroom or swimming pool shop.

COURSE STRUCTURE

This course is comprised of:

*Core studies - Four units (400 hours) of compulsory subjects for all students.

*Stream studies – Three stream units for the development of knowledge in a chosen industry sector.

*Project Elective Modules – a workplace project of 200 hrs relevant to your field of study. The project specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study. Contact the school for more information.


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Modules

Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Retail Nursery).
 Business Operations VBS006
 Management VBS105
 Marketing Foundations VBS109
 Office Practices VBS102
 
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Nursery Sales Assistant VHT103
 Garden Centre Management BHT255
 
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 4 modules.
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Research Project I BGN102
 Workshop I BGN103
 

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Retail Nursery) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


CORE UNITS

Click on each module for more details

Office Practices
Develops basic office skills covering use of equipment, communication systems (telephone, fax, etc) and office procedures such as filing, security, workplace organisations, etc. 

Business Operations

Develops knowledge of basic business operations and procedures (eg. types of businesses, financial management, business analysis, staffing, productivity, etc) and the skills to develop a 12 month business plan.
 
Management
Develops knowledge of management structures, terminology, supervision, recruitment and workplace health and safety.
 
Marketing Foundations.
Develops a broad understanding of marketing and specific skills in writing advertisements, undertaking market research, developing an appropriate marketing plan and selling.

 

STREAM UNITS

HORTICULTURE I
There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.

  2. Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.

  3. Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.

  4. Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.

  5. Water Management: Irrigation systems – characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; water wise gardening.

  6. Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.

  7. Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.

  8. Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.

  9. Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.

  10. Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.

  11. Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.

  12. Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.

GARDEN CENTRE MANAGEMENT
There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction: Plant classification, plant cultural requirements, soil and nutrition, watering requirements, drainage, temperature, light, humidity.

  2. Plant Health: How to diagnose a problem, pests, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, frost, sunburn, chemical damage, insufficient light, over watering.

  3. Stock Maintenance: Quality standards, buying new stock, inspecting stock, extending stock life, disposing of below-standard stock, watering techniques, fertilising, pest and disease control.

  4. Display and Display Techniques: Display units, product location, sales area layout.

  5. Garden Product Knowledge I: Plant containers, tags, soil mixes, equipment, tools.

  6. Garden Product Knowledge II: Chemicals, fertilisers, baskets, terrariums, cut flowers.

  7. Indoor Plants: Major groups, common problems, plants for specific situations, customer attitudes.

  8. Container Stock: Trees and Shrubs.

  9. Seedlings, Bulbs, Herbs and Perennials.

  10.  A: Deciduous Trees, Fruit, Nuts, Berries. B. Seed.

  11. Marketing: Pricing strategy, advertising, promotions.

  12. Management: Staff control, staff productivity, work scheduling.

NURSERY SALES SKILLS
There are 5 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Plant Identification: Understanding plant classification and pronunciation of plant names.

  2. Sales Skills: Determining different types of customers; developing the communication skills to sell, including how to open and close a sale.

  3. Caring for Plants: Planting techniques, understanding soils, plant nutrition and pest management.
        Selecting the Right Plant for the Right Place: How to create different moods using plants.

  4. Advising Customers in a Nursery: Developing good communication skills, knowing your product, plant placement.

Note: Fees do not include exam fees

PROJECT - ELECTIVE MODULES

The purpose of this part of the course is to take the horticultural and management learning from the Core and Stream Units and apply that learning in real world situations through research, work experience or other such activity. This both strengthens what you have learned and expands your awareness and builds a greater relevance into the whole course.

HOW CAN YOU MANAGE STOCK THAT IS NOT SELLING?

Plants will always sell better at some times of the year than others. Some types of plants are only able to be sold at certain times.
Nursery managers need to try as much as possible to plan for stock to be ready when it is needed; but that only happens in a perfect world. Weather conditions can speed up or slow down growth; and plants that do not sell one year may need to be held over for months, or even until the next year, before they can be sold. One obvious solution is to pot up unsold plants and grow them onto a larger size; but there is a cost involved in doing that; even if the potential exists to sell a plant for more money later on.

Sometimes plants get to the point of being ready for sale before the market is ready to buy them. In these instances, the nurseryman is faced with the serious problem of keeping the plants alive and in peak condition without them getting bigger or unmanageable.
There are a variety of things which can be done including:

  • Slow the growth rate by reducing fertiliser and water applications.

  • Store in a dormant state.

  • Pot up and sell as a larger plant.

  • Prune back and allow regrowth to occur.

  • Suckering or creeping plants may be divided to multiply plants.

  • Value-adding and by developing a different product - turn it into a bonsai, topiary, basket, or tub specimen.

HOLDING DORMANT PLANTS

Some plants, in particular bulbs, deciduous plants and many herbaceous perennials go through a period of dormancy (commonly over winter), when growth slows considerably, or stops. During this time, these plants are easy to move, and for that reason they are often sold as balled plants or bare rooted (without any soil).

Bare rooted plants and "bulbs" are much easier and cheaper to transport and store in a dormant state, hence the costs involved in marketing are reduced.

It is essential to understand the requirements of dormant or semi-dormant plants. When plant growth slows, their ability to resist pest and disease problems can also be lessened. These plants will only remain dormant as long as environmental conditions are appropriate, and placing them in a warmer situation might stimulate growth, and make the plants susceptible to damage through drying out - or physical damage when moved. They need to be sold, potted or planted out before dormancy breaks and growth begins.

Some dormant plants (eg. deciduous trees and shrubs) should be stored with their roots covered by something moist (but not waterlogged). They can be heeled into a bed of soil (ie. covered by soil), or covered by moist organic material such as moss or wood shavings. They can be bunched together and do not need to be stood up, but be careful that plants rubbing against each other do not cause too many wounds. Some varieties of herbaceous perennials, bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers can sometimes be stored dry on shelves in a dark, cool place over winter; while others must be kept moist, perhaps in containers covered with moist moss or shavings.

Nurseries which grow plants such as these which go through a period of dormancy may need to build special storage facilities to hold plants after digging, for several months as orders are received and processed.

AFTER YOUR STUDIES

Completing this course will give you knowledge, understanding and skills that are a valuable grounding for managing any type of retail nursery.
You may use this as a starting point for a new career or to start your own retail nursery; or you may already work in the nursery industry -in which case this course will improve your capacity to do better, across many of the day to day tasks you confront at work.

ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

ACS is a Preferred Member Training Provider with the Australian Institute of Horticulture. ACS students meeting AIH criteria can join AIH as a Category 2 student member.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

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Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).


What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (8-9 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- an Advanced Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.


Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.


How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.


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We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email (admin@acs.edu.au) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.


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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.
In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer
, teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Leading horticultural expert in Australia.
Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Gaynor Hartley

Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Tiss.Cult., MAIH

Lynette Morgan

Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Diana Cole

Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), RHS Diploma in Horticulture, BTEC Higher Diploma in Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.

In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). She also has skills gained through leading a group of volunteers renovating a local park on behalf of a local council and has been a volunteer leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. She continues to teach the Royal Horticultural Society qualifications (Levels 2 and 3) at her local college. She is a member of The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd.

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