Sparsholt College is celebrating the success of Horticulture student, Jessica Mears as she was named amongst those to be awarded the respected David Colegrave Blue Diamond Scholarships this year worth £2500.

All the students supported by the Blue Diamond Scholarships demonstrated their passion for horticulture and their commitment to building a career within the industry. Whether in the field of research, propagation, growing, design or plant retailing, Blue Diamond’s support for students through The David Colegrave Foundation is helping to grow the next generation of horticulturalists.

Jessica said: “I came to horticulture through a roundabout route. I did maths at university, and then became a postal worker. Working outside was great for me and I found my favourite part of the job was walking past all the plants in peoples’ front gardens. However, I was often unhappy at work and struggled with depression. I found I didn’t want to walk through the gardens anymore, I wanted to work with them. So I took a chance, and decided it was time to re-train.

“My Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma at Sparsholt College in Hampshire is geared towards training for commercial horticulture and I have found it has really set me up for employment. I feel comfortable making decisions about plants such as: how to care for them, what pests ail them and when to ask for advice. When I started, I was uncomfortable and unsure, not just about horticulture but more generally. I now feel excited and am looking forward to my next steps.

“I hope to work in a plant nursery after I finish at college. I have often found a lot of satisfaction in routine and seeing plants grow is possibly one of the most joyful things I can think of. Through college we have visited so many nurseries and I have loved all of them. I am particularly interested in propagation and potentially plant breeding. Inspired by a project I have undertaken at college about the effect of plant cultivation on nectar guides, I am intrigued by the thought of breeding plants that can be enjoyed by people but have extra benefits to wildlife such as higher nectar reserves.

“I think I will be happy in my new career, and retraining was a great decision. I am now hopeful for the future.”

Jessica’s course tutor and Curriculum Leader, Danielle Fancourt said: “Jessica has just been given the role of Team Leader for the Plants team for our 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit and has also been selected to represent the college at the show on the Royal Press Day.

“Jessica’s attention to detail and perseverance during some challenging times over the last few years is reflected in the high standard of work she produces.

“Jessica has planned and designed a garden at a local location, this was a project she completed in her own time and the design is due to be created in the garden by her peers in the summer term. This was a fantastic achievement for Jessica.

“Jessica is carrying out work experience at a local community garden project and works with the Botanic Gardens in Bristol in her spare time. Jessica is completely committed to Horticulture; her passion is demonstrated in all that she does, and she is looking now for full-time employment for when she finishes her college course.”


Sponsored by the Channel Islands-based, Blue Diamond one of the largest garden and living centres groups in the UK and Channel Islands, the award attracted a large number of competitive applications. The Group’s Managing Director Alan Roper said:

‘At Blue Diamond we are in the lucky position where we can help students grow their own career, and so it gives me great pride to give this opportunity to these students and share the passion we have for plants.’

Speaking about this scholarship, chairman of The David Colegrave Foundation, Jeff Colegrave, commented:

‘It is wonderful to have support for the Foundation from a major company within the horticultural industry. This financial commitment has enabled us to help even more students than we have ever been able to previously. Seven students have been awarded bursaries under this scheme and a total of £10,500 was shared amongst these students to help support them in their studies. Horticultural students are the future of our industry and it is so important that we do what we can to encourage them as they make their way into the industry.’

Sparsholt College, nestled in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, is a leading land-based College, with an unrivalled reputation for the delivery of Horticulture courses. Applications are still open for September 2022. Apply now: