Branching out: WIT students hone their skills at beautiful Mount Congreve Gardens
Local horticulture students have been given very own ‘Garden of Eden’ for field trips and work placements.
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has confirmed it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mount Congreve Gardens.
The School of Science and Computing at Waterford Institute of Technology and Mount Congreve Gardens have been steadily building links between the two organisations.
For a number of years, Mount Congreve has hosted horticulture degree students for their work placement and for field trips, and through this, many students have benefitted from the wealth of horticulture knowledge and skills shared generously by Mount Congreve’s team of craft gardeners.
Recently, the link between WIT and Mount Congreve was given formal standing when both parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which forms the basis for expansion between the two well-known Waterford institutions.
In recent years WIT Horticulture lecturer Yvonne Grace carried out research in the area of horticulture education and training, which found employers expect graduates to have a high degree of competency in relation to core horticultural skills.
Yvonne said: “Students who have the opportunity to complete their work placement in Mount Congreve gardens will have access to a vast collection of plants from all over the world. This, complemented with years of experience and knowledge from the gardeners, makes it an ideal place to learn core practical skills and expand their plant knowledge. We are very lucky to have such a resource on our doorstep.”
In conjunction with its education partners Teagasc in Kildalton College and also in the National Botanic Gardens, WIT currently offers a Level 7 BSc. in Horticulture and a BSc. (Hons) in Land Management (Level 8).
The MoU will formally facilitate WIT students of these programmes to have access to 70 acres of intensively planted woodland which holds over 3,000 species and plant collections of international note. The gardeners who have worked in the 4-acre walled garden which originally supplied fruit and vegetables and cut flowers for the house, have decades of knowledge to share on market gardening, plant breeding and propagation. The walled garden opens onto Waterford’s Greenway which is linked to WIT West Campus in Carriganore, offering one of the richest, natural and biodiverse landscapes in the country in which to study horticulture, forestry and land management.
Mount Congreve Estate Manager Ray Sinnott said: “We are delighted to work with WIT in this exciting phase of development for both organisations. I am a firm believer that we need to share the knowledge gained here over many generations, in order to preserve these wonderful gardens for the future benefit of the entire region.”
Mount Congreve is recognised as one of the ‘great gardens of the world’. It is located 5km north of Waterford city along the river Suir and just next to WIT’s West Campus in Carriganore. It is a botanical garden that welcomes the public 7 days per week in the summer months and Thursday to Sunday during autumn time. The public can book garden tours and attend seasonal weekend events throughout the year.
PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured from left are: Ray Sinnott (Estate Manager, Mount Congreve Trust), Yvonne Grace (Assistant Lecturer in Horticulture WIT), Dr Peter McLoughlin (Head of the School of Science and Computing, WIT), Dr Cara Daly (Programme Leader Horticulture, WIT) and Michael White (Curator, Mount Congreve Gardens). Photo by George Goulding.