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

Please note that the academic year 2020-2021 has been moved back to September 2021 and will begin then. Please see the statement on the academic year for all courses and tours due to start in September 2020 for further details.

Postponed dates

Postponed dates missed from the academic year 2019-2020 will now be caught up on the following days:

  • Thursday 18th March 2021
  • Thursday 15th April
  • Thursday 13th May and
  • Thursday 17th June

Academic Year 2021-2022

The dates for The Plant Scent and Taste Course are yet to be confirmed.


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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