A team of Further Education horticulture students have attended the launch of the Young Gardeners of the Year - the competition organised by TV gardener David Domoney.
Delivered in association with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community, the competition is being held at the brand new Ascot Spring Garden Show this April.
Last year, Writtle University College won Best in Show and a Gold Medal. Ben Wincott, Further Education Lecturer in Horticulture, will be guiding the nine Level 3 Horticulture students through the design and build as part of their course.
He said: “Young Gardeners of the Year is always a fantastic experience for our students and we're looking forward to starting work on our design for this year. The competition gives our students excellent experience of working at a high level on a Show Garden and to a real brief, while also giving them the opportunity to network and raise their profile.
“As in previous years, we'll be looking for sponsorship for our garden and would love to hear from any companies wishing to support us.”
At the launch at Ascot Racecourse, Ben spoke to all the teams about his experience of the competition over the last eight years. Following the event, the Writtle team were given a tour of the Ascot sports turf facilities.
The annual competition - which sees six of the UK's leading horticultural colleges go head-to-head for the title - celebrates young British 'green' talent as they create show-stopping, sustainable gardens that will be seen by thousands of visitors to the show.
The young gardeners are tasked with creating a back garden that will capture the imagination and inspire the judges and visitors, using clever plant association and design techniques.
Each college is being given a 5m x 4.5m plot. The garden style can be traditional or contemporary, and must inspire homeowners and passers-by on what can be achieved in a small urban space. The garden should appeal to the homeowner's senses; the colours and design should offer a spectacular welcome when they come home, and brighten up the homeowner's life.
The gardens will inspire city dwellers, showing all that can be achieved in urban locations, creating a sense of tranquillity and sustainability for the homeowner. Each garden should act as an escape from the pressures of inner city life and bring a touch of nature to the heart of the metropolis.
The teams are being asked to focus on the principles of sustainability, paying attention to issues such as the use of local, natural materials and the implementation of SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems).
David Domoney said: “To date we have given more than 600 garden landscaping and design students the opportunity to build gardens at a national event before they even leave the college gates. It's always a great privilege to see great British talent come together to compete for the title of Best Young Gardeners of the Year, and with this year's focus on back gardens, I can't wait to see them come to life.”
Simon Sadinsky, Head of Education at The Prince's Foundation's, said: “The creativity of past years has shown us that no matter how small the space, we can all incorporate natural environments into our busy urban lives and we are greatly looking forward to seeing what is produced this year.”
Alastair Warwick, Chief Operating Officer at Ascot Racecourse, added: “Supporting young and emerging talent, in both sport and horticulture, is hugely important to Ascot so we're excited to be giving these students a platform to showcase their skills and creativity.”
The colleges have to submit their garden design before the beginning of February. At Ascot they will have five days to build and plant their gardens in the Garden Terrace on Ascot's Grandstand ready for the Show's opening day on 13 April 2018.
Each garden will then be judged by an expert panel, which includes horticultural industry leaders, home and garden magazine editors, and acclaimed garden designers and landscapers. Entrants will compete to win gold, silver gilt, silver, or bronze awards. The overall winner will receive the Best in Show trophy, and visitors will be able to vote for the winner of the People's Choice Award.
• The Ascot Spring Garden Show opens from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 April. Tickets are on sale now and can be booked via Ascot.co.uk/gardenshow
• For more information about studying a College-level course in Horticulture at Writtle University College, please visit writtle.ac.uk/FE-Horticulture