Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - Ornamental Horticulture

Arguably the most flexible & extensive undergraduate amenity horticulture course available 3yrs f/t, train to work in gardens, parks, urban landscaping and more.

Course CodeVHT009
Fee CodeAD
Duration (approx)2400 hours
QualificationProficiency Award 4

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Learn the skills to work in ornamental horticulture

This is an extremely comprehensive course that is designed to assist the graduate to gain employment in any area 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.


What makes the ACS Proficiency Award unique?

The proficiency awards offer a tiered award system - so you don't have to wait until the end of your qualification to gain an award.

How does that work?

Once you have completed 6 modules, you can receive an ACS Certificate. Complete 8 (plus 100 hrs work experience), and receive an ACS Advanced Certificate. Complete 10 and receive a ACS Proficiency Award 1. Complete 14 (plus 100 hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 2. Complete 20 modules (plus 100 hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 3. Complete 24 modules (plus 100 hrs Work Experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 4. 


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - Ornamental Horticulture.
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Engineering I - Machinery & Equipment BSC105
 Horticulture and Research I BHT118
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
 Horticulture And Research II BHT241
 Plant Protection BHT207
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
 Horticultural Marketing BHT304
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 13 of the following 26 modules.
 Arboriculture I BHT106
 Bookkeeping Foundations (Bookkeeping I) BBS103
 Herb Culture BHT114
 Landscape Construction BHT111
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Turf Care BHT104
 Arboriculture II BHT208
 Deciduous Trees BHT244
 Engineering II - Engineering Applications BSC205
 Garden Centre Management BHT255
 Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
 Irrigation (Gardens) BHT210
 Planning Layout And Construction Of Ornamental Gardens BHT242
 Roses BHT231
 Sports Turf Management BHT202
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Landcare Reafforestation) BHT205
 Tropical Plants BHT234
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
 Bush Tucker Plants BHT328
 Garden History BHT329
 Irrigation Management BAG303
 Managing Notable Gardens BHT340
 Operational Business Management I (Horticulture) BHT326
 Operational Business Management II (Horticulture) BHT327
 Turf Repair And Renovation BHT303

Note that each module in the Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - 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 

This course will give you the skills and knowledge to work as a professional horticulturist in ornamental horticulture at management level.

This course is different to many others. It is an "experiential based" learning program; designed to get you involved with the horticulture industry as you study. The industry is changing faster than ever; and will continue to change; and for ongoing success you need to become "connected" and remain "connected", so that you see and adapt to recent changes, and ongoing changes as your career moves forward.

Let us help you toward a successful future in ornamental horticulture!

We've always found it is better to communicate with someone before they enrol. If we understand your passions, capabilities and ambitions, we can help you map out a course of action to give you the best chance of achieving your goals.

Use our free career and course counselling service.



ACS is an Organisational Member of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning
ACS is an Organisational Member of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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

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Rosemary Davies

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
John Mason

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; author of more than 70 books and edito
Gavin Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort
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