RHS Approved Centres delivering theory and practical qualifications; short courses; industry training and City and Guilds NPTC Certificates of Competence

Develop a career in Horticulture

The courses & qualifications we offer will provide you with the skills & knowledge you need for a successful career.

Sissinghurst gardens from the Tower; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
The wisteria bridge at Giverny seen through ferns and willow: photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
colourful foliage borders; photo, BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Fronds of shuttlecock fern Matteuccia struthiopteris at Great Dixter; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Drifts of primula and hosta at Longstock Water Gardens, Hampshire; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Ceanothus and nepeta at BEST's North Moreton site; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' and Buddleja lindelayana at BEST's North Moreton site; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Lily pond and pergola at West Dean Gardens; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Japaanese themed gardens at Compton Acres, Dorset; photo, BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Chinese Garden at Singapore Botanic Gardens; photo, BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Cornus alba sibirica and golden grasses at Hillier Arboretum; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd
Beth Chatto's dry garden, with island beds in gravel and Genista aetnensis; photo, BEST in Horticulture Ltd
View across pond to white-stemmed birch - Betula jacquemontii - at Beth Chatto Gardens; photo, BEST in Horticulture Ltd
The dry garden at Hyde Hall; photo BEST in Horticulture Ltd

 Just to thank you for sending me the certificate which I received it's just two days and makes me feel very proud indeed,  I still envisage to complete the Diploma in a way or an other, don't know when though, but be sure you will hear again from me at some stage , it was great to be with you and Tony at Ryton, I'd love to repeat that experience." (From a student who came from Italy to study the RHS Practical.)

The website is superb by the way and the course very well structured and planned - never had a folder of information before when I did level 2.

Thank you to you all there for your support and great notes and information. When you are learning online, its crucial that the notes are clear and well explained as you are teaching yourself as well as revising it. BEST's notes are very good and the revision booklet has been a great help too.

I'm delighted to tell you I received pass with commendation for my first two exams. This is well above what I expected. I tried studying with [another provider] but I wasn't happy with the sheer volume and, sometimes, unnecessary information they provided. They also don't follow the syllabus in the order the RHS give it, so I soon went back to your course and I'm so glad I did. 

HOORAY - I have finished and have passed them all with commendations.

Many thanks for the excellent study material. I really enjoyed the learning although now relieved not to have the pressure I put myself under to do well.

"Two commendations, clearly the quality of the distance provider"

Many thanks again for the course. Not only did I learn a lot from it and massively increase my confidence, but it has led directly to my current work in two gardens which I love.

 It has been a pleasure to work with B.E.S.T., each stage has been well managed from enrollment to sitting the exam, with excellent support from my Tutor Jenny.


I got my results today and passed all 8 units at level 2 (3 commendations). Thank you for that !

I thought I'd let you know I passed all 8 of the L2, 2 with commendation, after signing up for the online course in March. Thanks to all at BEST especially Natasha my tutor!

I must say I'm really enjoying this course. The materials are absolutely fantastic. I'm actually looking forward to the exams!

'I am pleased to say that I passed the Plant Taxonomy exam with a commendation (75%) and got a pass (62.5%) in the Plant Health…I would just like to say your course material is excellent and the revision booklets invaluable.'

"As we are approaching our final lesson at North Moreton I would like to express my thanks to BEST for the programme which has provided me with tools and knowledge that I am utilizing at University College, the support has been fabulous and I look forward to doing courses again personally in the future."

BEST in Horticulture delivers Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) theory courses as distance learning (DL online or correspondence), and the knowledge elements of practical courses online (BL). In addition we offer correspondence courses in garden design (DIY Garden Design) and the Certificate of Organic Horticulture which has online, correspondence and BL options.

RHS Distance Learning Courses (DL)

 RHS Blended Learning Courses (BL)

  • Up-to-date course material available online or as printed course books
  • Course material referenced throughout to RHS syllabuses
  • Highly experienced course tutors with subject specialisms
  • Two years of tutor support
  • Flexible study options: from single units, to the full Diploma
  • Our online classroom (Moodle VLE) provides flexible access to study and communication with tutors and other students
  • B.E.S.T. in Horticulture Group is an Approved Centre for RHS Examinations (with Centres in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire)


Certificate in Organic Horticulture (DL)

  • Course material endorsed by Garden Organic
  • Up to two years of support from a tutor with excellent organic experience
  • Extra units can be added to the core units which make up the Certificate
  • Our online classroom provides flexible access to study and communication with tutor and other students
  • We are the only organisation offering this mode of study for RHS qualifications
  • Study and practice at home, then attend our Ryton Centre for Assessment
  • An opportunity to obtain an RHS practical qualification over six days of intensive assessment (excluding home study and practice)
  • Course material fully explains all the techniques assessed in the RHS Practical Qualifications
  • Our online classroom (Moodle VLE) provides access to a diverse range of visual study materials to help develop practical skills
  • Assessment carried out by Qualified and Accredited Vocational Specialists


Certificate in Organic Horticulture (BL)

  • Study and practice at home, then attend for practical assessment days at our Ryton Gardens Centre
  • Extra units can be added to the core units which make up the Certificate
  • Our online classroom (Moodle VLE) provides access to a diverse range of visual study materials to help develop practical organic skills



Register of UK Learning Providers Reference no: 10041193

Distance learning with BEST - study that suits you

We offer the full range of RHS theory qualifications which you can study from home, how and when you choose. You can study for pleasure, or choose to take RHS exams and get internationally-recognised qualifications in horticulture.

In addition we offer correspondence courses in garden design. DIY Garden Design enables you to design your own garden, or gardens for others, to a professional standard.

RHS Courses

Flexible options for online or correspondence learning

Distance Learning

  • You can start the courses whenever you like - the only fixed points in the year are RHS exams in June and February.
  • It is up to you to decide how fast you work through the units: you are enrolled for two years but it all depends on how much time you have free to study.
  • As a guide, a level 2 Certificate would take you around 140 hours of study, or the Level 3 certificate 150 hours.
  • Course materials are written specially for these courses, prepared by tutors experienced in teaching and examining all the RHS courses.
  • Self-test questions or actual past exam questions are built into each group of learning outcomes and your tutor will give you feedback and comments on your work.

DIY Garden Design

A correspondence course with full tutor support


  • The course gives you the knowledge and skills to be able to create and implement garden designs that are not only beautiful but also 'work' on the ground for the garden users.
  • There are two options to choose from depending on whether you already have drawing equipment or not.
  • Both options are distance correspondence courses. They are fully supported by our very experienced course tutors and an illustrated full colour course folder 'DIY Garden Design' which guides you through the entire process.
  • By following the course modules, at the conclusion of the course you should be able to design your own garden competently, and plan gardens for others to a professional standard.


RHS  Qualifications

BL work                                                          

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK's leading gardening charity dedicated to advancing horticulture and promoting good gardening.Its goal is to help people share a passion for plants, to encourage excellence in horticulture and inspire all those with an interest in gardening.

RHS Qualifications is a nationally recognised awarding body offering a range of accredited qualifications for both professional horticulturists and keen gardeners.

Studying for RHS qualifications opens up a host of career opportunities.


Blended Learning: RHS Level 2 and 3 Courses

Blended learning is a combination of distance learning, practical teaching and assessment. This method of study offers learners the opportunity to study Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) practical courses from their own home and come to our Ryton Centre for assessment.

The formal assessments are carried out in compliance with the awarding body's requirements.

It is an excellent way of gaining a valuable qualification, studying when it suits you.

It is most suitable for experienced home gardeners, or anyone in the industry looking to validate their knowledge with a qualification.


BL work

 It is not suitable for complete beginners or for anyone without access to a garden or allotment, because it requires a high level of preparation and practice at home or work, using the videos, powerpoints and step-by-step notes provided for the tasks which make up the RHS qualifications.


Study: You can start online study at any time during the year, and begin to practise the tasks.

Assessment: Then sign up for assessment days when you are ready.

For level 2 there are six Saturdays, spaced through the year to cover all the seasonal elements.

For level 3 there are three full weekends in February, July and October.

(For dates and prices, see the leaflet below.)


RHS Level 2 Consolidated Programme


The Consolidated Programme is a combination of distance learning, with blocks of practical teaching and assessment.

This is suitable for people who do not have much experience of horticulture but have an enthusiasm for gardening and are unable to attend a weekly practical course over a year.

We offer learners the opportunity to study the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) Level 2 practical course as a consolidated programme of online study and preparation followed by two one-week blocks of training and assessments.

The blocks are scheduled for February and July to accommodate seasonal activities.

Study : You can start online study at any time during the year, and familiarise yourself with the tasks and prepare for plant identification tests.

Further training and assessment: You will receive further training and practice during the ‘blocks’  before undertaking the assessments.

Block 1:  17th - 21st February 2020

Block 2:   27th- 31st July 2020

Download a leaflet here for more information.