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Working with Students and Colleges

Provender Nurseries are ambassadors in the horticultural industry and are involved with horticultural students in a variety of ways, the main five being:

Below you will find a summary of how Provender Nurseries continues to break boundaries in the horticultural industry and support new talents from the start of their journey to a thriving career.

Student Visits

Hosting regular student visits to Provender Nurseries is something not only we enjoy doing but we also realise the importance for students to visit a real nursery and learn about plant specification, plant choice, quoting, recognising the potential of material available, new products and great advice gleaned over our many years of experience.

During student visits not only do we tour the site showcasing the amount of material available to designers but we also encourage 'Design Masterclasses' by the lecturers for their students allowing students to experiment with plant choice, selection and co-ordination.

If your college is interested at coming along to Provender Nurseries and holding a student visit please contact for details.

DEsign masterclassDEsign masterclass

 Design Masterclass

Students visit 1Students visit 2

 Student Visits


Design Compeitions

At present Provender Nurseries are working in conjunction with Capel Manor College with a garden redesign competition with students from 2 of their campuses. This has been hosted for 3 years now and being committed to another 3 years means we are enabling students to work to a real budget and situation all of which is valuable to their experience. The winning students are awarded cash prizes and publicity in relevant trade magazines.

For the last three years Provender Nurseries have held the garden re-design competition with Capel Manor and have so far the winning designers have gone on to prove their worth in the industry with one of the designers winning Gold at Hampton Court and another winning team winning Silver Gilt in 2015. You can read more of their story in 'Show Gardens'

Capel Manor Design Competition Winners:

Gardens on Campus

We understand that it is not always possible to bring students out on visits (although that is the preferable option) and so Provender Nurseries have sponsored a display garden at Capel Manor College, Enfield and donated plants for re-planting the Dry Garden at Writtle College thus giving design students the opportunity to see plants in the flesh and in real situations.

Provender Nurseries Garden

Provender Nurseries Garden at Capel Manor, Enfield Campus

In February of 2012, garden design student Esra Parr was the winning entrant for the Garden Design competition run by Provender Nurseries to students at Capel Manor College.

The Brief

The competition was to produce a design to revamp one of the display gardens at Capel Manor College, Enfield using plants that were not already used on site and listed on Provender Nurseries' website. New planting was to be vibrant, interesting and have a strong focal point.

The prize was to have the winning design planted up at Capel Manor Gardens where it will remain in situ for 3 years.

The Winning Design

Esra Parr's design was selected as the winning design and was planted up during the spring show.

Structure was achieved using Liquidamber sty. 'Gumball' standards at the entrance coupled with the rounded domes of Pittosporum ten. 'Tom Thumb', Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' that accentuate the spikey foliage of the Libertia ixo. 'Goldfinger'. Year round interest was achieved by the use of Acer griseum, Edgeworthia chrysantha and Acacia delabata.

The garden was planted during the Spring Gardening Show in 2013.

CapelEsra Parr's garden at Capel Manor

Esra Parr's garden at Capel Manor

Writtle College Dry Garden re-planting

In March 2013 Provender Nurseries provided plants for re-planting of the Dry Garden at Writtle College Campus.

The Dry Garden one and half years after planting:

Show Gardens

With an un-rivaled history of supporting new talent in their journey from education through to launching into the working world, Provender Nurseries have proved that they have an ability for choosing designers with a flair for excellent garden design.

Below you will find a summary of how Provender Nurseries continues to break boundaries in the horticultural industry and support new talents from the start of their journey to a thriving career.

Hampton Court Flower Show 2015

Vanessa Hoch and Rachel Pocock of VaRA Garden Design won a design competition in 2014 run by Provender Nurseries in conjunction with Capel Manor College Enfield Campus with their design 'Foundations for Growth'. The garden was then submitted to and selected by the RHS Application panel for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2015 and achieved a Silver Gilt Medal.

The Brief

The brief was to design a garden for a professional who wish to entertain their friends in an exciting and impressive small garden. All planting should be entirely new and no hard landscaping features can be altered.

The Winning Design

The winning design was tweaked a little for the application process at Hampton Court and evolved into 'Foundations for Growth'.

Foundations for Growth - Image Credit Miriam Gopaul

'Foundations for Growth' is based around the journey students take through their education and reflects the hard work and determination to succeed. The garden contains solid winter interest, great plant structure, strong form and complementary accent planting with impressive colour association. The differing heights of Fagus sylvatica and Fagus sylvatica 'Atropurpurea' punctuate the planting and represent the building blocks of learning to be overcome and developed in a student's journey.

Vanessa and Rachel's design stood out for the strong winter interest and plant structure, great form - particularly in the choice and use of hedges as structural barriers at different heights and great accent planting. The design had given some obvious thought to plant choice and soil association and some impressive colour association from the foliage plants with the occasional flower to punctuate the overall colour palette. All plants selected for the garden design were selected from the Provender Nurseries website. The hard landscaping for the garden could not be altered.

Winning a deserved Silver Gilt Medal and well received by RHS judges the bronze tones of the Corten Steel seats, planters and panel perfectly complement the planting of Hemerocallis 'Lusty Lealand', Hemerocallis 'Crimson Pirate' and Sanguisorba officinalis'Morning Select' all of which were flowering at exactly the right time for the judging and show.

Indeed 'Foundations for Growth' opened the BBC's coverage on television for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2015 with Joe Swift complementing the planting tones. The feedback from the judges was extremely positive with the colour scheme and the overall feel of the garden being complemented in particular. Cleve West and James Alexander Sinclair also popped in for a visit and enjoyed sitting in the sunken area and discussing planting with Vanessa Hoch and Rachel Pocock of VaRa Garden Design.

Foundations for Growth' on the BBC's coverage of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Cleve West and James Alexander Sinclair discussing the garden with Vanessa Hoch and Rachel Pocock of VaRa Garden Design


Vanessa Hoch says 'The opportunity to put our first planting design into fruition and to be rewarded with a Silver Gilt medal at Hampton Court is beyond my wildest dreams. Both Rachel and myself are incredibly proud of what we have achieved and are grateful for all the help from our team of planters and hard landscapers.'

Richard McKenna says 'At Provender Nurseries we love the challenge of supporting new talent at such a prestigious show. With such an impressive first build behind them I am confident that VaRa Garden Design will continue to provide inspirational gardens to their clients in the future'.

The Plant List

Click here to view VaRa Garden Design's 'Foundation for Growth' leaflet (PDF)

Building the Garden

'Foundations for Growth' - the build #1

'Foundations for Growth' - the build #2


'Foundations for Growth' - the finished garden #1


'Foundations for Growth' - the finished garden #2


Student Design & Build Award

About the award

Launched in 2010 the Student Design & Build Award to be run for a three year period has been a resounding success for all that have been involved along the way. Aimed at students of horticulture and garden design nationwide the ethos behind the Student Design & Build was to give a newly qualified student an opportunity to build a show garden at Hampton Court fully funded by Provender Nurseries...(more info)

The 2012 award

The winner of the Student Design & Build Award 2012 was Peter Reader with 'Four Corners'. His garden was based on the design principles of the Persian Chahar Bagh 'fourfold garden' with the garden symmetrically divided using 4 rills. This division enabled the garden to contain and embrace four distinctly flavoured garden areas from around the world...(more info)

The 2011 award

The winners of the Student Design & Build Award 2011 were Susan Willmott and Adele Ford with 'Coastal Drift'. The garden was designed to represent part of a larger garden and is an area in which to relax and unwind, allowing stress to float away. The concept is taken directly from the waves of the sea, echoed by the shape of the wall and choice of planting. 'Coastal Drift' offers a peaceful idyll of coastal living. With its cool and calming colour scheme and naturalistic planting, it demonstrates how you can create your own secret haven or small garden...(more info)

The 2010 award

The winner of the Student Design & Build Award 2010 was Charlotte Murrell with 'Wild in the City'. The brief was to design either an Urban Garden or a Rooftop Garden for a young couple in their 30s. The winning design, a Contemporary Urban Wildlife Garden, was for a couple with two young children aged eight and five. The aim of the garden was to provide a calm relaxing space for the family to unwind from the fast pace of city life, while also educating the children about wildlife and biodiversity...(more info)