New gardening school opens at popular Suffolk nursery

Susannah Sharman of Swann's Nursery in Woodbridge has set up her own gardening school and club

Susannah Sharman of Swann's Nursery in Woodbridge has set up her own gardening school and club - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Lockdown has seen people confined to their homes for the past 18 months – and during that time, many have become more attuned with their gardens.

Thanks to spurts of good weather both this summer and last, our gardens have become a much-needed haven, allowing us to safely enjoy the sun and the beauty of nature. 

But with many unsure on how to maintain their gardens - or even where to start - one Suffolk woman has decided to set up a gardening school that will give learners everything they need to create a space that works for them. 

Susannah Sharman, who is the owner of Garden Art Design, has over 30 years’ worth of horticulture experience.  

Susannah has over 30 years' worth of horticultural experience 

Susannah has over 30 years' worth of horticultural experience - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Her latest venture, School of Gardening, aims to show keen gardeners of all ages how they can create their own sanctuary at home, regardless of prior experience. 

“Business has been busy during lockdown - we’ve been running out of stock as more people are definitely looking to put more effort into their gardens,” she explains.  

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“But people have also been panicking and unsure where to start, which is why we want to help people. We want to give them the confidence and knowledge to buy the plants that will work best for their gardens, and what to do with them.  

“People just need a bit a guidance, and that’s how the idea of the gardening school and club came about.” 

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Based at Swann's Nursery near Woodbridge, the School of Gardening will combine indoor classroom sessions with hands-on outdoor workshops that will show attendees everything they need to know to perfect their green spaces. 

The workshops and courses will take place across morning and evening sessions, and will typically be one or two days in length. 

But what sorts of classes are on offer? 

Wildlife gardening is one of the courses on offer at Susannah's school

Wildlife gardening is one of the courses on offer at Susannah's school - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“We have a two-and-a-half hour pruning course, where we’ll show people how to manage their gardens and get a better understanding of the plants they grow. Another one we’ll be running is called ‘build a border’, which is an interactive workshop which teaches you how to put plants together and where to place them to create a border.” 

In addition, the school will also be running lawn and garden maintenance courses, and a course on how to grow your own fruit and vegetables.  

But it’s Susannah’s wildlife gardening course that she hopes people will be keen to take part in, as it will not only better your own garden but also improve the local ecosystem.  

“It’s all about getting your garden working for the environment, and helping offset your carbon footprint where you can. A lot of people don’t use their gardens to their full potential – but by putting the right plants in, it will not just help the local wildlife but also convert carbon dioxide back into oxygen.” 

Classes and workshops will take place both inside a classroom and outside where learners can get hands on

Classes and workshops will take place both inside and outside where learners can get hands on with a variety of plants and flowers - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Wildlife gardening is a way of encouraging bees, birds, butterflies and other animals into your garden, which in turn creates a harmonious ecosystem for a variety of flora and fauna. 

“I think people are frightened when they hear the concept of wildlife gardening, but it doesn’t matter what size garden you have. There's always something you can do to help the environment, and I’m really keen to show people what they can do with the space they have.” 

As well as the gardening school, Susannah has also set up a gardening club which aims for people to meet like-minded horticulturists now restrictions have eased.  

“I see a lot of lonely people, men especially, who don’t really go to other clubs but they spent their time gardening, so I’m hoping to encourage people to get together so they can share advice and learn from each other. 

“With both the school and the club, my overall aim is to get people learning and thinking about what they can do with their gardens. It’s their space to use and enjoy, but I want to remind people that gardening is also great exercise, good for the soul and a great way to help the environment.” 

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