The Four Best Books for RHS Level 2

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4 horticulture book covers next to each, principles of horticulture, a-z encyclopedia of garden plants, field guide to wild flowers of britain and europe, dictionary of plant-lore

One of the very first and most frustrating things that I learnt as a tutor was how little difference there is between the best assignments and those that only scrape a pass. Often the difference is as simple as one assignment using world class sources and another one just getting by with a few webpages. I’ve recently signed up for an online course here at ADL, training me for the RHS Level 2 diploma in horticulture exams, and I’m determined to track down the best resources available!

In this post I wanted to share some of the books I’ve found the most useful, and ask if anyone had any extra suggestions for me:

Principles of Horticulture: Level 2 by Charles Adams, Mike Early, Jane Brook & Katherine Bamford

This book is by far the most useful of all that I have found. It is written by horticultural teachers and designed for use by those taking the RHS Level 2 exam. It contains a chapter to read alongside most of our lessons at ADL. It also has a huge number of exemplar diagrams which are just so useful considering the number of diagrams we have to draw. I think it contains the answer to most of the theoretical questions we get asked, so it makes the research much easier!

The RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Christopher Brickell

This is very definitely a desktop book rather than a field guide – the version I have is 2 volumes long and over a thousand pages. It’s not much good for identifying plants. However, it has all the information needed for looking after any garden plant, including a section about the diseases which each genus gets, which I haven’t been able to find in any other book. It’s ideal for the plant review sheets!

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe by M. Eppinger

Identifying plants is an important aspect of the RHS course. I’ve been specialising in wildflowers rather than domesticated ones so far, and this book is fantastic for identifying them! It is sorted by flower colour, then the number of petals, which makes it really easy to search through to find species I don’t know. Most field guides only have botanical keys and these are only useful if you know all the botanical terminology and can identify the family of any plant on sight, so this is much better for learners!

The Oxford Dictionary of Plant-Lore by Roy Vickery

It’s easy to forget when researching for the scientific side of the course that horticulture has a human interest as well. This book is an extension of the Folklore Society’s survey of modern-day plant folklore. It contains a huge number of Britain’s most common flowers and plants and describes their symbolism.

What do you think of my selection? Can you recommend any books from your own gardening or botany courses? Leave a message to let me know!

If you are interested in getting accreditation for a career in horticulture, the Academy for Distance Learning teaches the RHS Level 2 Principles of Horticulture diploma modules online. You can work at your own pace and access learning resources and get unlimited tutor support online. Sign up today!

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