RBGE Diploma in Garden Design



THE RBGE Diploma in Garden Design runs every two years, running roughly one weekend a month. The course is aimed at providing a thorough grounding for anyone wishing to pursue garden design as a professional career. It offers students top level tuition, as well as the opportunity to produce their own Show Garden at Gardening Scotland.

The course format has been reviewed and re-developed and is now taught by RHS Gold medallists Pip Probert and with guest lecturers and horticultural staff who are all on hand to provide expert advice on planting choice, plant identification and horticultural practice.

Over 18 months students will gain a sound knowledge of the theory and practice of garden design including: drawing and surveying skills, planting design, creative process, presentation, construction theory, contract administration and business management. In the second year the students will work together to create their own show garden at the acclaimed Gardening Scotland show. This project will be an exciting and rewarding immersion into the steps involved in producing a show garden and will be an excellent launch pad for students
into their new careers.

Living Landscape Garden, designed by Jane Ekersall as part of the RBGE Diploma in Garden Design. The Garden was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal at Gardening Scotland 2017

Course structure

The course is delivered over two years. In Year One students attend a series of weekend modules in Edinburgh (one weekend a month) and in Year Two occasional weekend modules support project work at home and in groups. Each weekend will consists of a mix of lectures and practical studio time, with regular sessions on plant identification and horticulture throughout each term. The course is assessed through a series of design projects and portfolios.


There are three major design projects in addition to continuous assessment and plant identification tests throughout the course.

Design Projects 1 & 2

Design Projects 1 & 2 are survey and design projects, on the first you will assess an RBGE site and for the second you will have a real client’s garden. Work undertaken includes surveying, site analysis, design progression; mood boards through to design plan, elevations, axonometric drawings. Basic planting suggestions, construction drawings, specification and administration.

Design Project 3

Taking place in the second year, design project 3 course will consist of project based learning and onsite, practical experience. This project involves the design of a proposed garden for ‘Gardening Scotland’.

How to apply

No formal qualifications or prior experience in design are needed to enrol on the course, just a keen interest and enthusiasm in garden design and a willingness to commit time and effort. Interested students should download the Applicants' Handbook.

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)