Advanced Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture

A flexible and extensive amenity horticulture course. Ideal for those wishing to pursue a career working in gardens, parks, urban landscaping, arboriculture, turf care or commercial horticulture settings.

Course Code: VHT077
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Turn Your Enjoyment of Plants into a Fulfilling Career

Ornamental horticulture is also known as amenity horticulture. It covers a range of different areas of horticulture so graduates of studies in this area are often highly regarded in many different niche areas of horticulture.

This area of study is perfect for people who want broad skills in horticulture which provide a platform from which to specialise.

Learn the skills needed to work in ornamental horticulture

This is an extremely comprehensive course that is designed to assist the graduate to gain employment in different areas of ornamental horticulture. Work as a professional horticulturist in ornamental horticulture at management level e.g. a  garden centre manager, garden consultant, manager of grounds and grounds staff, or in technical research, teaching or writing - in fact, any professional level of ornamental horticulture.

Learn from experienced horticulturalists. Grow your awareness of industry and opportunities; and develop your networking skills. Success in ornamental horticulture is not just a matter of being able to do the job. It is also very much dependent upon the attitude you have and the decisions you make.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture.
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Turf Care BHT104
 Irrigation (Gardens) BHT210
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
 Horticultural Research I BHT118
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 71 modules.
 Arboriculture I BHT106
 Australian Native Trees VHT115
 Australian Natives I BHT113
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Cacti & Succulents VHT108
 Carnivorous Plants VHT107
 Fuchsias VHT112
 Garden Maintenance VHT100
 Growing Annuals BHT115
 Growing Camellias VHT109
 Growing Carnations VHT110
 Growing Grevilleas VHT118
 Growing Iris VHT111
 Herb Culture BHT114
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Horticulture III (Plant Health) BHT116
 Landscape Construction BHT111
 Nursery Hands Course VHT102
 Nursery Sales Assistant VHT103
 Pelargoniums and Geraniums VHT113
 Permaculture I VSS104
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Propagation I BHT108
 Research Project I BGN102
 Arboriculture II BHT208
 Botany II (Plant Growth and Development) BSC204
 Conifers BHT230
 Cut Flower Production BHT221
 Cutting Propagation BHT211
 Deciduous Trees BHT244
 Garden Centre Management BHT255
 Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
 Greenhouse Cut Flowers VHT239
 Horticultural Research II BHT241
 Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
 Hydroponic Management (Hydroponics II) BHT213
 Hydroponics I BHT224
 Landscaping II BHT214
 Landscaping III (Landscaping Styles) BHT235
 Lavender BHT228
 Leisure Facility Management I BRE205
 Natural Garden Design BHT215
 Orchid Culture BHT232
 Palms & Cycads BHT233
 Planning Layout And Construction Of Ornamental Gardens BHT242
 Plant Protection BHT207
 Practical Horticulture 1 BHT238
 Protected Plant Production BHT223
 Research Project II BGN201
 Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens BHT243
 Roses BHT231
 Scented Plants BHT229
 Seed Propagation BHT237
 Tropical Plants BHT234
 Weed Control BHT209
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
 Biophilic Landscaping BHT343
 Ferns BHT314
 Garden History BHT329
 Horticultural Marketing BHT304
 Horticultural Therapy BHT341
 Irrigation Management (Horticultural) BHT305
 Managing Notable Gardens BHT340
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302
 Perennials BHT316
 Plant Taxonomy BHT344
 Practical Horticulture 2 BHT323
 Proteas BHT318
 Soil and Water Chemistry BSC307
 Turf Repair And Renovation BHT303
 Water Gardening BHT307

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Plant Knowledge is the Foundation for good horticulture

A home garden can commonly have hundreds of different plant species growing in it. Public gardens may have even more. A plant nursery may be selling well over a thousand different cultivars, and sometimes many thousands.

Every plant will grow differently, and to get the most out of the plant, it requires a great deal of knowledge about the different plants you work with. This "plant knowledge" is what distinguishes the best gardeners and horticulturists, from everyone else.

Our courses place a great deal of importance upon teaching you "plant knowledge", perhaps more so than most other horticultural schools. In doing so, we believe that we equip our students with a distinct advantage over students who graduate from other colleges.

How much do you know about Plants?


A comprehensive guide to successful planting in the shade

A shaded area not only looks better with the right plants, but is also easier to maintain. Pants have varying degrees of tolerance to sun and shade, and information about what will grow best in your shaded area is hard to give, because there are so many variables involved.

The plants on the following lists are a good starting point. All have some degree of shade tolerance, and many will grow across a wide range of different climates. Before making your final choice, try to find somewhere where you can see the plants you choose, growing in your locality – perhaps in a botanic garden or a nursery. This will help you get a better idea of just how much shade the plant will tolerate in your part of the country.

SHRUBS (medium-large)

  • Abutilon Hybrids

  • Aucuba japonica Variegata (Gold Dust plant)

  • Baeckea crenatifolia

  • Berberis darwinii

  • Brachyglottis repanda

  • Buxus sempervirens

  • Camellia japonica

  • Cordyline stricta

  • Cotoneaster spp.

  • Elaeagnus pungens variegata

  • Euonymus japonicus

  • Fatsia japonica

  • Feijoa sellowiana

  • Forsythia spp.

  • Homalanthus populifolius

  • Howea forsyeriana

  • Hydrangea macrophylla

  • Ilex aquifolium

  • Leucothoe fontanesiana

  • Leycesteria Formosa

  • Luculia gratissiuma

  • Olearia spp.

  • Mackaya bella

  • Mahonia aquifolium

  • Myrtus communis

  • Nandina domestica

  • Omalanthus populifolius

  • Osmanthus spp.

  • Philadelphus mexicanus

  • Pittosporum crassifolium

  • Pittosporum eugenioides ‘variegata’

  • Plectranthus ecklonii

  • Plectranthus fruiticosus

  • Prunus laurocerasus

  • Prunus lusitanica

  • Rhododendron ponticum varieties

  • Vibumum tinus

  • Yucca spp.


SHRUBS  (small)

  • Buxus sempervirens Marginata

  • Cotoneaster horizontalis

  • Daphne odora

  • Dichorisandra thyrsiflora

  • Euphorbia wulfenii

  • Fatshedera lizei varieties

  • Fuchsia varieties

  • Hydrangea spp.

  • Hypericum chinense

  • Jacobinia carnea

  • Paeonia spp. (Paeony)

  • Philadelphus spp.

  • Pieris japonica

  • Plectranthus saccatus

  • Potentilla spp.

  • Rhododendron (Azaleas)

  • Ruscus spp.

  • Sarcococca ruscifolia

  • Skimmia japonica

  • Strobilanthes anisophyllus

  • Syringa (Lilac)



  • Acanthus

  • Acorus

  • Agaphanthus

  • Ajuga pyramidalis

  • Aquilegia

  • Anemone hupehensis

  • Arabis

  • Arenaria montana (Sandwort)

  • Astilbe (Goat’s Beard)

  • Begonia

  • Bellis (English daisy)

  • Bergenia

  • Calathea spp.

  • Campanula (Bellflowers)

  • Chlorophytum

  • Cineraria

  • Clivia

  • Coleus

  • Crocus

  • Cymbalaria

  • Dicentra

  • Erigeron

  • Fritillaria (Crown Imperial)

  • Hemetocallis

  • Hosta

  • Houstonia

  • Hymenocallis

  • Impatiens

  • Iris Louisiana

  • Leucojum (Snowflake)

  • Ligularia

  • Lirope

  • Lobelia

  • Lupins

  • Maurandia

  • Nandina domestica ‘Nana’

  • Narcissus hybrids

  • Ophiopogon japonicus

  • Pilea

  • Polyanthus

  • Primula

  • Rehmannia angulata

  • Schizocentron

  • Tradescantia

  • Vinca major

  • Virgina Stock



There always seems to be one spot in the garden that is so deeply shaded that nothing will grow. What is needed are plants that are known to survive and even thrive in such positions.

  • Aucuba, shrub to 2m tall, toothed, dark green leaves, red berries.

  • Buxus semperverens, shrub to 4.5m, glossy green foliage, used as a hedge.

  • Brunnera macrophylla, perennial 45cm, hardy, self seeds, attractive flowers and leaves.

  • Convallaria majalis, perennial 20cm, broad bright green leaves, fragrant white bell flowers.

  • Euphorbia robbiae, perennial 60cm, leathery green leaves, yellow/green flowers.

  • Fatsia japonica, small shrub, large leaves, creamy flowers in autumn.

  • Gaultheria shallon, shrub 2m, very hardy, pink/white bell flowers, purple berries, can become invasive.

  • Haberlea rhodopensis, groundcover, glossy green leaves, lilac flowers in spring, full to semi-shade.

  • Hedera helix (Ivy), climber/groundcover, very adaptable, variable in foliage.

  • Helleborus orientalis, perennial 60cm, purple to white flowers, full to semi-shade.

  • Helleborus niger, perennial 45cm, white flowers winter/early spring, full to semi-shade.

  • Helleborus lividus corsicus, perennial 60cm, pale green flowers, winter/spring, good to stoney poor soils, full to semi-shade.

  • Hosta spp., perennial 50cm, variable in foliage pattern, tall flower spikes in summer.

  • Hydrangea macrophylla, shrub 1.5m, large showy flower heads, colours vary according to soil conditions.

  • Hypericum calycinum, small shrub, open yellow flowers summer/autumn.

  • Iris foetidissima, clumb perennial, dark arching foliage, yellow/lilar flowers, orange/red berries.

  • Lamium galeobdolon, groundcover, silvery green foliage, can become invasive.

  • Lamium maculatum, perennial 25cm, pinkish tinge to foliage and ‘Roseum’ flowers (spring/summer), less invasive than L. galeobdolon.

  • Ligustrum japonicum, shrub, smooth green foliage, white flowers summer, fast growing.

  • Mahonia aquifolium, shrub 1.2m, glossy dark green foliage, showy flowers spring, suckering habit.

  • Pachysandra terminalis, small shrub, white flowers in spring, ground covering.

  • Polygonatum x hybridum, perennial 90cm, arching stems, white/green flowers late spring.

  • Ramonda myconi, low perennial, dark green leaves, lilac flowers in spring.

  • Robus tricolor, groundcover, dark leaves, white flowers mid-summer.

  • Saxifraga fortunei, low perennial, attractive foliage, feathery white flowers in autumn.

  • Scrophularia aquatica ‘Variegata’, perennial 80cm, cream/green foliage.

  • Symphytum grandiflorum, low perennial, creamy flowers in spring.

  • Vinca major ‘Variegata’, groundcover, cream/green foliage, small blue flowers spring/summer, mat forming.

  • Viola cornuta, perennial, mass of flowers in spring, colour varies.



  • Abelia grandiflora, 2-3m, caney habit, bronze/green foliage, white/pink flowers summer-autumn, part shade or sun.

  • Acalypha hispida, 2m shrub with coloured leaves, part shade or sun.

  • Antigonon leptopus, climber, pink or white flowers, semi-deciduous, semi-shade.

  • Arrabidaea magnifica, climber, violet funnel shaped flower, shady spot.

  • Clerodendrum thomsoniae, climber, clusters of red and white flowers in summer.

  • Eupatorium megalophyllum, 2.5m, large lilac fluffy flower heads.

  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’, 1m, fragrant white flowers, glossy green leaves, acid soils, shade.

  • Hemigraphis alternata, 15cm, groundcover, greenish upper and purplish underside of foliage, invasive, shade or full sun.

  • Ixora chinensis, 2m, bright orange to pink flowers, glossy green leaves, prefers semi-shade.

  • Ixora coccinea, 1.5m shrub, shiny green leaves, cluster of red flowers in summer-autumn.

  • Mandevilla ‘Red Riding Hood’, twiner, large deep pink flowers all year, shady site.

  • Megaskepasma erthroclamys, 3m, screen plant, broad green leaves, cerise flower spikes in summer-autumn, shade.

  • Murraya paniculate, 2-3m, evergreen glossy green leaves, white orange blossom scented flowers, semi-shade or sun.

  • Mussaenda hybrids, 1-3m, coloured bracts, part shade.

  • Mpetrea volubilis, climber, purple flowers spring-summer, coarse foliage, semi-shade or sun.

  • Philodendron selloum, 1.5m, large shiny leaves, full or semi-shade.

  • Phyllanthus sp., 50cm, spreading cover, small green leaves.

  • Raphiolepis indica, 3m, small scented pink-white flowers in spring.

  • Rhoeo spatha-cea, 40cm, groundcover, dark green above and purplish below foliage, full or semi-shade.

  • Russellia equisetiformis, 1.5m, rambler, red cigarette flowers all year, shade-sun.

  • Sansevieria trifasciata, 1.2m, stiff striped green/grey foliage, semi-shade or sun.

  • Thunbergia mysorensis, climber, tubular orange/brown flowers that hang below foliage, deep green leaves, semi-shade.



  • Actinotis minor, 20cm, straggling plant, white daisy flowers.

  • Alpinia caerulea, 50cm, ginger-link plant, clump forming.

  • Artanema fimbriata, 50cm, purple/blue flowers, dark leaves.

  • Austromyrtus dulcis, 1m, small foliage, white flowers, speckled fruit.

  • Bauera rubioides, 2m, straggly, pink rose flowers in spring.

  • Boronia spp., up to 1.5m, colourful and perfumed flowers.

  • Clerodendrum cunninghamii, 3m, dark veined leaves, white flowers.

  • Cordyline spp., up to 3m, strappy leaves, small flowers.

  • Crinum pedunculatum, 1m, large strappy leaves, large white flowers.

  • Cycas armstrongii, up to 4m, feathery leaves to 1m, long, semi-shade.

  • Dianella spp., up to 50cm, flax-like foliage, blue flowers.

  • Eriostemon myoporoides, 2m, waxy foliage, white flowers.

  • Goodenia hederacea, 1m, ivy-like foliage, small yellow flowers.

  • Helmholtzia glaberrima, 1.5m, glossy dark leaves, pale pink flowers.

  • Indigofera Australia, 2m, purple pea-like flowers in spring.

  • Lomatia silaifolia, 1.5m, cream flowers in summer, feather leaves.

  • Macrozamia communis, up to 2m, tough, long arching fronds.

  • Melastoma affine, up to 3m, hairy oval leaves, mauve flowers.

  • Olearia spp., up to 10m, variable, daisy white flowers.

  • Rhododendron lochae, 80cm, straggly, bright red flowers, good container plant.

  • Viola hederacea, 10cm, groundcover, green kidney-shaped leaves, blue/white flowers all year.

See More of our Plant Variety Courses -click here 


Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's

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
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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 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 $60 incl. GST 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

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

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

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Course Contributors

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

Jacinda Cole (Horticulturist)

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer.
She was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up her own landscaping firm. She spent three years working in our Gold Coast office, as a tutor and writer for Your Backyard (gardening magazine) which we produced monthly for a Sydney punlisher between 1999 and 2003. Since then, Jacinda has contributed regularly to many magazines, co authored several gardening books and is currently one of the "garden experts" writing regularly for the "green living" magazine "Home Grown".

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 (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.
She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.
In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others.
Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.


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

Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson B. Mech Eng (hons) Dip. Health

Graham has spent his life in the farming and agriculture industry, particularly carving a niche in the avocado sector with experience ranging from tissue culture, to nursery management to fruit marketing. He has an engineering qualification and an extensive range of mechanical skills which are now diversifying to an understanding of our internal mechanics in health and psychology with qualifications underway.

Jacinda Cole

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.

Marie Beerman

Over 12 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of MANY ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants"

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