Plant Scent and Taste Course

Plants and planting for the senses

The Plant Scent and Taste Course delves into the mechanisms of scented plants and the different tastes to be found in the plant kingdom. It looks at the ways we can understand and better appreciate these individual characteristics in plants. Emma Desmier, well-known in the scent industry, will concentrate on plant scents while Caroline Holmes, author of many books on culinary plants, talks on the best cultivars to use for flavour. Other lecturers talk on their specific subjects using different plants and well-known plant collections to explain the processes. The course is based at The Garden Museum and there will be garden visits to selected scented and culinary plant collections.

Magnolia ‘Lois’

The Syllabus

  • Scented plants – identification of different scents in plants from root and stems through leaves to flowers, fruit and seeds
  • Understanding the mechanism for scent both in the plants and how scent is detected by our senses
  • Practical study days at RBG Kew using identifying techniques to recognise different scented plants
  • Identifying the best way to grow scented and culinary plants
  • Visits to plant collections and nurseries (including Wakehurst Place, West Dean, specific vineyards and orchards) to see the plants growing and assess the plant scents and flavours
  • Identifying scent and taste at species and cultivar level and understanding scent characteristics within plant families
  • Identifying different tastes and the mechanisms for detecting them in plants to species and cultivar levels including tea and coffee
  • Gin distillery and vineyard visits. Tasting days to explain the processes and how this affects the products
  • Introduction to different plants for their culinary and medicinal uses and observing different cooking techniques and how this affects taste

Course Dates

The course runs over ten days on the following Thursdays:


Thursday 19th September 2019, 17th October, 21st November, 12th December, 16th January 2020, 20th February, 19th March, 16th April, 14th May and 18th June.


Thursday 17th September 2020, 15th October, 19th November, 10th December, 14th January 2021, 18th February, 18th March, 15th April, 13th May and 17th June.


This is not a certificate course.

Course Fees

The fees for the course are £1395.00 and are payable in full before the beginning of the autumn term. A place is confirmed on the course by sending a non-refundable deposit for £100.00 together with the completed Plant School course application form.

Application Form

The application form for joining this course can be downloaded by clicking on the following link. Please complete the form and return it either by email or post.

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