The team behind the Writtle College entry to the Young Gardeners of the Year 2015 competition has released its initial show garden design.
The contest, organised by TV Gardener David Domoney in association with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, was launched in November.
The annual competition celebrates young ‘green’ talent and sees six of the UK’s leading horticultural colleges go head-to-head to create a show-stopping sustainable garden that will be visited by thousands at the Ideal Home Show.
The brief for this year’s garden was again reclaimed urban space, with the emphasis on the sustainable use of water and water harvesting.
FE Lecturers in Horticulture Ben Wincott and Simon Watkins are providing guidance to the team of horticulture students who are designing and building this year’s Writtle College entry, which has to fit in a 5.5m x 4m plot.
Ben, who specialises in construction and design and has created several show gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Shows, said: “This year’s team has been using Pinterest to bring together their ideas and we are fortunate to have a huge facility here so we can build in advance elements of the garden and then put it together like a construction kit.
“The team have come up with some great ideas around the water harvesting and we are looking at having a tank of water in the garden that will become a feature flowing down and running through a curving rill, with pipes going out that could irrigate the garden.
“Last year our garden was based on the concept of a pub overrun and adapted by nature. It was quite an eccentric, fun take on the brief. This year, we’re making a garden that is more ‘high end’ with the aim of showing that you can achieve a slick-looking garden in a small, urban environment at a lower cost, using recycled materials and sustainable methods.
“We were thrilled to win a gold medal in last year’s competition and this year we are hoping for the same success or better – it would be wonderful to win the Best in Show award or the People’s Choice popular vote.”
The team are now concentrating on growing the plants in preparation for the garden. In the spirit of sustainability, many are being recycled from last year’s garden. The planting scheme will feature the drought-resistant asplenium fern, stipa grass as well as geraniums, a pink rose and an evergreen jasmine climber.
Rob Band, who is in his second year of the Level 3 course, has recently been planting trays of Mind Your Own Business covered in netting so that they can be used as ‘bricks’ on the walls of the structure, which will be primarily made of millboard.
The 34-year-old musician and sound engineer from Colchester, who decided to study horticulture after enjoying growing his own vegetables, said: “Entering this competition is giving us brilliant, practical experience of building gardens, planting and the design process.”
FE Lecturer Simon said: “This year, we are very fortunate to have a number of companies supporting us with materials, on the strength of last year’s entry. Collier and Catchpole is giving us a range of building materials; Global Stone is helping us with paving; D&B Scaffolding is supplying old scaffold boards to make furniture; Millboard is kindly donating nearly £3,000-worth of decking and fittings; Makita is loaning us quality tools; and Factorylux is supplying some beautiful retro Edison Style Lightbulbs and fittings.”
He adds: “Working with new materials and products is great for the students and enables us to produce quality show gardens. We welcome the sponsorship these companies give us and can’t wait to start putting their products together in the garden.”
This year’s show gardens will be judged by an expert panel, which includes horticultural industry leaders, home and garden magazine editors and acclaimed garden designers. Entrants will compete to win the gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze awards. The overall winner will receive the Best in Show award, and visitors will be able to vote for the winner of the People’s Choice Award.
Each college will be asked to submit their garden designs before the beginning of February, when they will then have one week to build and plant their garden inside Kensington Olympia ready for the Ideal Home Show opening day on the 20 March 2015.
• The Ideal Home Show London will open its doors for 18 days from 20 March to 6 April 2015 at Olympia London.