Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - Ornamental Horticulture

Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - Ornamental Horticulture

Course Code
Payment Options
Upfront & Payment Plans
Online & Correspondence
2500 Hours

This course is designed to assist the graduate to gain employment in the following fields: Garden Company Manager, Technical Officer, Marketing Manager, Consultant, Vocational Trainer.

This course is designed to assist the graduate to gain employment in the following fields: Garden Company Manager, Technical Officer, Marketing Manager, Consultant, Vocational Trainer.

This course is accredited through the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.


There are no academic pre-requisites for this course but it is expected that successful applicants have achieved an educational level that will enable the completion of the course objectives. Entry to this course is based on:

  • a person with 5 years industry experience;
  • year 12 standard of education;
  • mature age student.


Core Modules These modules provide foundation knowledge for the Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - Ornamental Horticulture.
  Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
  Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
  Engineering I - Machinery & Equipment BSC105
  Horticulture and Research I BHT118
  Horticulture I BHT101
  Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
  Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
  Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
  Horticulture And Research II BHT241
  Plant Protection BHT207
  Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
  Horticultural Marketing BHT304
Elective Modules In addition to the core modules, students study any 13 of the following 26 modules.
  Arboriculture I BHT106
  Bookkeeping Foundations BBS103
  Herb Culture BHT114
  Landscape Construction BHT111
  Landscaping I BHT109
  Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
  Turf Care BHT104
  Arboriculture II BHT208
  Deciduous Trees BHT244
  Engineering II - Engineering Applications BSC205
  Garden Centre Management BHT255
  Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
  Irrigation (Gardens) BHT210
  Planning Layout And Construction Of Ornamental Gardens BHT242
  Roses BHT231
  Sports Turf Management BHT202
  Trees For Rehabilitation (Landcare Reafforestation) BHT205
  Tropical Plants BHT234
  Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
  Bush Tucker Plants BHT328
  Garden History BHT329
  Irrigation Management BAG303
  Managing Notable Gardens BHT340
  Operational Business Management I (Horticulture) BHT326
  Operational Business Management II (Horticulture) BHT327
  Turf Repair And Renovation BHT303

Note that each module in the Proficiency Award 4 in Horticulture - Ornamental Horticulture is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Plant Knowledge is the Foundation for good horticulture

A home garden can commonly have hundreds of different plant species growing in it. Public gardens may have even more. A plant nursery may be selling well over a thousand different cultivars, and sometimes many thousands.

Every plant will grow differently, and to get the most out of the plant, it requires a great deal of knowledge about the different plants you work with. This "plant knowledge" is what distinguishes the best gardeners and horticulturists, from everyone else.

Our courses place a great deal of importance upon teaching you "plant knowledge", perhaps more so than most other horticultural schools. In doing so, we believe that we equip our students with a distinct advantage over students who graduate from other colleges.

How much do you know about Plants?


A comprehensive guide to successful planting in the shade

A shaded area not only looks better with the right plants, but is also easier to maintain. Pants have varying degrees of tolerance to sun and shade, and information about what will grow best in your shaded area is hard to give, because there are so many variables involved.

The plants on the following lists are a good starting point. All have some degree of shade tolerance, and many will grow across a wide range of different climates. Before making your final choice, try to find somewhere where you can see the plants you choose, growing in your locality – perhaps in a botanic garden or a nursery. This will help you get a better idea of just how much shade the plant will tolerate in your part of the country.

SHRUBS (medium-large)

  • Abutilon Hybrids
  • Aucuba japonica Variegata (Gold Dust plant)
  • Baeckea crenatifolia
  • Berberis darwinii
  • Brachyglottis repanda
  • Buxus sempervirens
  • Camellia japonica
  • Cordyline stricta
  • Cotoneaster spp.
  • Elaeagnus pungens variegata
  • Euonymus japonicus
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Feijoa sellowiana
  • Forsythia spp.
  • Homalanthus populifolius
  • Howea forsyeriana
  • Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Ilex aquifolium
  • Leucothoe fontanesiana
  • Leycesteria Formosa
  • Luculia gratissiuma
  • Olearia spp.
  • Mackaya bella
  • Mahonia aquifolium
  • Myrtus communis
  • Nandina domestica
  • Omalanthus populifolius
  • Osmanthus spp.
  • Philadelphus mexicanus
  • Pittosporum crassifolium
  • Pittosporum eugenioides ‘variegata’
  • Plectranthus ecklonii
  • Plectranthus fruiticosus
  • Prunus laurocerasus
  • Prunus lusitanica
  • Rhododendron ponticum varieties
  • Vibumum tinus
  • Yucca spp.

SHRUBS  (small)

  • Buxus sempervirens Marginata
  • Cotoneaster horizontalis
  • Daphne odora
  • Dichorisandra thyrsiflora
  • Euphorbia wulfenii
  • Fatshedera lizei varieties
  • Fuchsia varieties
  • Hydrangea spp.
  • Hypericum chinense
  • Jacobinia carnea
  • Paeonia spp. (Paeony)
  • Philadelphus spp.
  • Pieris japonica
  • Plectranthus saccatus
  • Potentilla spp.
  • Rhododendron (Azaleas)
  • Ruscus spp.
  • Sarcococca ruscifolia
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Strobilanthes anisophyllus
  • Syringa (Lilac)


  • Acanthus
  • Acorus
  • Agaphanthus
  • Ajuga pyramidalis
  • Aquilegia
  • Anemone hupehensis
  • Arabis
  • Arenaria montana (Sandwort)
  • Astilbe (Goat’s Beard)
  • Begonia
  • Bellis (English daisy)
  • Bergenia
  • Calathea spp.
  • Campanula (Bellflowers)
  • Chlorophytum
  • Cineraria
  • Clivia
  • Coleus
  • Crocus
  • Cymbalaria
  • Dicentra
  • Erigeron
  • Fritillaria (Crown Imperial)
  • Hemetocallis
  • Hosta
  • Houstonia
  • Hymenocallis
  • Impatiens
  • Iris Louisiana
  • Leucojum (Snowflake)
  • Ligularia
  • Lirope
  • Lobelia
  • Lupins
  • Maurandia
  • Nandina domestica ‘Nana’
  • Narcissus hybrids
  • Ophiopogon japonicus
  • Pilea
  • Polyanthus
  • Primula
  • Rehmannia angulata
  • Schizocentron
  • Tradescantia
  • Vinca major
  • Virgina Stock


There always seems to be one spot in the garden that is so deeply shaded that nothing will grow. What is needed are plants that are known to survive and even thrive in such positions.

  • Aucuba, shrub to 2m tall, toothed, dark green leaves, red berries.
  • Buxus semperverens, shrub to 4.5m, glossy green foliage, used as a hedge.
  • Brunnera macrophylla, perennial 45cm, hardy, self seeds, attractive flowers and leaves.
  • Convallaria majalis, perennial 20cm, broad bright green leaves, fragrant white bell flowers.
  • Euphorbia robbiae, perennial 60cm, leathery green leaves, yellow/green flowers.
  • Fatsia japonica, small shrub, large leaves, creamy flowers in autumn.
  • Gaultheria shallon, shrub 2m, very hardy, pink/white bell flowers, purple berries, can become invasive.
  • Haberlea rhodopensisgroundcover, glossy green leaves, lilac flowers in spring, full to semi-shade.
  • Hedera helix (Ivy), climber/groundcover, very adaptable, variable in foliage.
  • Helleborus orientalis, perennial 60cm, purple to white flowers, full to semi-shade.
  • Helleborus niger, perennial 45cm, white flowers winter/early spring, full to semi-shade.
  • Helleborus lividus corsicus, perennial 60cm, pale green flowers, winter/spring, good to stoney poor soils, full to semi-shade.
  • Hosta spp., perennial 50cm, variable in foliage pattern, tall flower spikes in summer.
  • Hydrangea macrophylla, shrub 1.5m, large showy flower heads, colours vary according to soil conditions.
  • Hypericum calycinum, small shrub, open yellow flowers summer/autumn.
  • Iris foetidissima, clumb perennial, dark arching foliage, yellow/lilar flowers, orange/red berries.
  • Lamium galeobdolon, groundcover, silvery green foliage, can become invasive.
  • Lamium maculatum, perennial 25cm, pinkish tinge to foliage and ‘Roseum’ flowers (spring/summer), less invasive than L. galeobdolon.
  • Ligustrum japonicum, shrub, smooth green foliage, white flowers summer, fast growing.
  • Mahonia aquifolium, shrub 1.2m, glossy dark green foliage, showy flowers spring, suckering habit.
  • Pachysandra terminalis, small shrub, white flowers in spring, ground covering.
  • Polygonatum x hybridum, perennial 90cm, arching stems, white/green flowers late spring.
  • Ramonda myconi, low perennial, dark green leaves, lilac flowers in spring.
  • Robus tricolor, groundcover, dark leaves, white flowers mid-summer.
  • Saxifraga fortunei, low perennial, attractive foliage, feathery white flowers in autumn.
  • Scrophularia aquatica ‘Variegata’, perennial 80cm, cream/green foliage.
  • Symphytum grandiflorum, low perennial, creamy flowers in spring.
  • Vinca major ‘Variegata’, groundcover, cream/green foliage, small blue flowers spring/summer, mat forming.
  • Viola cornuta, perennial, mass of flowers in spring, colour varies.


  • Abelia grandiflora, 2-3m, caney habit, bronze/green foliage, white/pink flowers summer-autumn, part shade or sun.
  • Acalypha hispida, 2m shrub with coloured leaves, part shade or sun.
  • Antigonon leptopus, climber, pink or white flowers, semi-deciduous, semi-shade.
  • Arrabidaea magnifica, climber, violet funnel shaped flower, shady spot.
  • Clerodendrum thomsoniae, climber, clusters of red and white flowers in summer.
  • Eupatorium megalophyllum, 2.5m, large lilac fluffy flower heads.
  • Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’, 1m, fragrant white flowers, glossy green leaves, acid soils, shade.
  • Hemigraphis alternata, 15cm, groundcover, greenish upper and purplish underside of foliage, invasive, shade or full sun.
  • Ixora chinensis, 2m, bright orange to pink flowers, glossy green leaves, prefers semi-shade.
  • Ixora coccinea, 1.5m shrub, shiny green leaves, cluster of red flowers in summer-autumn.
  • Mandevilla ‘Red Riding Hood’, twiner, large deep pink flowers all year, shady site.
  • Megaskepasma erthroclamys, 3m, screen plant, broad green leaves, cerise flower spikes in summer-autumn, shade.
  • Murraya paniculate, 2-3m, evergreen glossy green leaves, white orange blossom scented flowers, semi-shade or sun.
  • Mussaenda hybrids, 1-3m, coloured bracts, part shade.
  • Mpetrea volubilis, climber, purple flowers spring-summer, coarse foliage, semi-shade or sun.
  • Philodendron selloum, 1.5m, large shiny leaves, full or semi-shade.
  • Phyllanthus sp., 50cm, spreading cover, small green leaves.
  • Raphiolepis indica, 3m, small scented pink-white flowers in spring.
  • Rhoeo spatha-cea, 40cm, groundcover, dark green above and purplish below foliage, full or semi-shade.
  • Russellia equisetiformis, 1.5m, rambler, red cigarette flowers all year, shade-sun.
  • Sansevieria trifasciata, 1.2m, stiff striped green/grey foliage, semi-shade or sun.
  • Thunbergia mysorensis, climber, tubular orange/brown flowers that hang below foliage, deep green leaves, semi-shade.


  • Actinotis minor, 20cm, straggling plant, white daisy flowers.
  • Alpinia caerulea, 50cm, ginger-link plant, clump forming.
  • Artanema fimbriata, 50cm, purple/blue flowers, dark leaves.
  • Austromyrtus dulcis, 1m, small foliage, white flowers, speckled fruit.
  • Bauera rubioides, 2m, straggly, pink rose flowers in spring.
  • Boronia spp., up to 1.5m, colourful and perfumed flowers.
  • Clerodendrum cunninghamii, 3m, dark veined leaves, white flowers.
  • Cordyline spp., up to 3m, strappy leaves, small flowers.
  • Crinum pedunculatum, 1m, large strappy leaves, large white flowers.
  • Cycas armstrongii, up to 4m, feathery leaves to 1m, long, semi-shade.
  • Dianella spp., up to 50cm, flax-like foliage, blue flowers.
  • Eriostemon myoporoides, 2m, waxy foliage, white flowers.
  • Goodenia hederacea, 1m, ivy-like foliage, small yellow flowers.
  • Helmholtzia glaberrima, 1.5m, glossy dark leaves, pale pink flowers.
  • Indigofera Australia, 2m, purple pea-like flowers in spring.
  • Lomatia silaifolia, 1.5m, cream flowers in summer, feather leaves.
  • Macrozamia communis, up to 2m, tough, long arching fronds.
  • Melastoma affine, up to 3m, hairy oval leaves, mauve flowers.
  • Olearia spp., up to 10m, variable, daisy white flowers.
  • Rhododendron lochae, 80cm, straggly, bright red flowers, good container plant.
  • Viola hederacea, 10cm, groundcover, green kidney-shaped leaves, blue/white flowers all year.


  • We've been teaching horticulture since 1979 -we've helped tens of thousands around the world. We can help you.
  • Support from a team of a dozen horticulturists, in three countries including some of the industries leading experts. The principal John Mason is the only person to have been made a fellow by both the Australian Institute of Horticulture, and the UK Institute of Horticulture. Long time tutor, Dr Lyn Morgan is one of the world's leading hydroponic experts. Gavin Cole has worked in landscaping across both Australia and the UK, and was operations manager for one of England's most prestigious landscape companies. Maggi Brown is a life member of Garden Organic in the UK, and one of England's most respected organic gardening experts. Bob James has over 50 years of experience in horticulture as a consultant, local government manager, university lecturer, nurseryman, permaculturist, and more.
  • Above all; our courses are unique, and they work. They take longer to complete than certificates in some colleges; but our graduates learn more, and because there are lots of choices throughout the course; every graduate will have a different mix of knowledge and skills to everyone else -as well as all of the basics that everyone needs to learn. This uniqueness sets our graduates apart from the crowd, and that gives you an edge on everyone else. 

What Should You Study?

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We've always found it is better to communicate with someone before they enrol. If we understand your passions, capabilities and ambitions, we can help you map out a course of action to give you the best chance of achieving your goals. 

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