Kamal - My Horticulture Story 3

When did I first become interested in Horticulture?

As a child, growing up in inner city Bradford, I'd watch and help my mum grown lots of veg in our tiny backyard in BD3 and I didn't realise how much I was learning about Horticulture. She grew veg like black spinach and giant Bangladeshi Kumra (Fig Leaf Gourd) -  the size of melons! I remember the excitement of watching things grow from a tiny see to a giant veg and in addition to the joy of eating the delicious produce. My mum used to work in the rice fields of Bangladesh, so the love of horticulture and agriculture has been imprinted into my genes. 

What prompted me to sign up for the course at Shipley College?

Having moved to Saltaire, I was walking though one day and spotted some greenhouses attached onto the side of the Shipley College building. I was intrigued. I'd been to Saltaire many times, but had never seen these greenhouses, shyly tucked behind the side streets. I googled courses at Shipley college and - lo and behold - they did a Level 3 (BTEC) in Horticulture. Excitedly, I rang up admissions department and said they've not even began enrolling yet and I was the first name on the list. I then got a call from the tutor Helena Glassup and was instantly attracted to the course, notably, she had the same name - Helena -  of my favourite character from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and loved link between my passion for literature and love of horticulture! 

Kamal - My Horticulture Story (1)

What have I learnt so far?

The course has been wonderful! We have been learning all about pruning, propagation, horticulture history, binomial nomenclature, along with my work experience placement at the stunning grounds of East Riddlesden Hall and we also got to design, build and compete at the Harrogate Flower show – with fellow students in my group: Emma Hudson and Annmarie Dixon.

How did our team work together to come up with the design for Harrogate Flower Show?

The Harrogate Flower Show was epic. We worked in teams at college, myself and my two classmates Emma Hudson and Annmarie Dixon came up with the concept of a border made up of all the dye plants that could be used to dye wool. This combination of our interests in fashion and the textile heritage of Bradford. We delegated tasks and I took lead on drawing and submitting the design, Emma and Annmarie researched the plants, grew dye plants form seed and even dyed the wool. We than all built the border together in Harrogate - we were up against the clock and battling the elements to get it built in time for it to be judged. We were over the moon to be awarded 5 stars for our border! 

Kamal - My Horticulture Story

What has been the most interesting part of the course?  

It's been such a delight being a student again and getting to do things like having school dinners - makes me feel like a kid again. The only thing that's missing is jam roly-poly with custard. The course is taught in the Exhibition Building in Saltaire, which a is grand Victorian building - built by Titus Salt Jr. The sandstone and architectural style reminds me of Cambridge - where I did my BA in Architecture. We are so lucky in Bradford to have such amazing facilities on our doorstep! There's also a growing nursery, poly-tunnels and of course Robert's Park - which we used for one of our assessed assignments. The course also offers a fee waiver scheme which makes it accessible for people from low income backgrounds. The most challenging part of the course has been managing time around my other commitments, but going into college once a week is a welcomed change to my hectic week.

Will you combine horticulture with work as a writer?

I'm wanting to find a way to bring my playwrighting and horticulture together. I'm currently working on a project about the history of tea (Camelia sinensis) with artist Nick Ellwood for the Migration Museum. I would love to write columns for gardening magazines and also look at historical diverse gardeners to inspire my next piece of fictional work. The course has allowed me to meet other like minded people. Who knows, it might even bring a horticultural love story my way to write about! 

Kamal - My Horticulture Story 2

What are my plans after completing the course?

It's a 2-year course part time, I have one year left. Once completed I intended to and ways to bring my passion for the Arts and horticulture together! We had to set career goals at college and one of mine was to be the first British-Bangladeshi Bradfordian presenter on Gardeners' World on the BBC!

If you are interested in following in Kamal's footsteps, follow the links below to browse some of our Floristry and Horticulture courses for adults:

Horticulture & Gardening - Qualification Courses

Floristry - Qualification Courses

Flower Arranging & Gardening - Lifestyle & Leisure Courses


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