Writtle University College alumnus Ian Price has won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 for his garden about mental ill health.
The 39-year-old used the prestigious show as a platform to draw attention to an issue that will affect 1 in 4 of us at some point in our lives.
The garden gives visitors a taste of life debilitated by depression in a deeply personal creative project - and it attracted the interest of The Duchess of Cambridge who visited the Mind Trap garden and spoke to Ian about its creation and his experiences.
Ian, who graduated from Writtle in 1998, said: “I am totally overwhelmed by the response of the judges and visitors to Mind Trap. When I first set out to create this garden, I wanted to turn my experience of battling depression into something positive. As the idea progressed and I received so much positive feedback about my mission, I realised just how important it could be to so many others too.
“To have now achieved the recognition of the RHS with this Gold Medal has just blown me away completely and I feel so honoured to have been given the opportunity to exhibit my design at the world’s most prestigious flower show.
“I truly hope that my ‘positive garden about mental health’ can help to raise more awareness of mental health and let others know that it really is OK, not to be OK, and with the right help and hard work you can learn to take back control.”
Ian visited Writtle University College in March to give Landscape Architecture and Garden Design degree students an insight into the plans for his show garden and to critique their work. Following his visit, he gave students invaluable experience of helping with the planting of Mind Trap at RHS Chelsea.
Based on Ian’s personal battle with mental ill health and depression, every element of Mind Trap has been carefully structured to symbolise a facet of mental ill health. From the black-water pond which gently ripples so as not to allow you to see a true reflection of yourself, to the harsh metal walls looming in on you making the visitor feel caged with only a few rays of light at certain angles, each stone, plant and shrub has been carefully chosen to align with his mission.
Ian was the only garden designer from Northern Ireland at the prestigious show and the first from there in at least 30 years to have secured a spot there. It is his first RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden; he won a gold medal for his first RHS show garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park in 2014.
The garden was sponsored by idverde. Alistair Bayford, Sales and Operations Director at idverde and another Writtle alumnus, said: “When we first heard about Mind Trap’s concept we felt compelled to embark upon our first venture into RHS Chelsea Flower Show as the message behind it resonates so completely with so many people.
“As Europe’s leading green services provider we know just how important green spaces are to people and we loved how Ian’s design utilises symbolism to immerse people into an experience of suffering from mental ill health, whilst also showing the importance of green spaces and horticulture in helping people to build resilience and recover.”
Mind Trap sponsored by idverde supports the Heads Together campaign, and charities Perennial and Inspire. When the bell tolls on Saturday, funds raised by the sale of plants from the garden will be donated to these three worthy causes.