Former WUC students enjoy garden sector success

May 2020

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

If you're passionate about gardens, Writtle University College (WUC) offers a wide array of specialist courses at apprenticeship, college, degree and postgraduate level.

In 2019, our former students were well represented at the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, receiving a variety of medals for their innovative garden designs.

Alistair Bayford graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Landscape and Garden Design in 2004 before becoming operations director for idverde UK. Last summer, he showcased the Family Monsters Garden, which celebrated charity Family Action's 150 year anniversary and idverde's 100 years of creating and maintaining landscapes for the benefit of local communities. Alistair's garden was awarded an RHS gold medal at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, in addition to the Award for Best Artisan Garden.

Former student, Miki Sato, also received gold. Her Kampo no Niha Garden was produced in partnership with fellow designer Kazuto Kashiwakura and was inspired by the geology of Hokkaido, the most northerly prefecture of Japan. She said: "I want to show people that plants have a wonderful power to make them happy and relaxed and this should be an important feature of their own gardens."

WUC graduate Helen Elks-Smith gained a silver gilt medal for her Warner's Distillery Garden, inspired by the Northamptonshire farm of Warner's Gin.

Helen commented: "It was great to build my first Main Avenue garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. To see a garden built in such a short amount of time relative to a real garden is always thrilling. The complexity of the design detailing underpins the importance of a good grounding across a range of subjects such as I received at Writtle."

A passion for plants, gardens or the outdoors can translate into a wide variety of successful careers. Alan Power gained his diploma in horticulture from WUC in 1993. He is now Garden & Estate Manager at the prestigious National Trust property of Stourhead. He oversees 2650 acres with the help of five full time gardeners, two full time rangers and a team of over 30 volunteers.

Alan is currently ensuring Stourhead's Wiltshire estate remains in good condition during the visitor-free weeks of lockdown. He will be taking the next big step in his career later this summer.

Alan said: "We feel so lucky here as the team who care for this 300 year old masterpiece of landscape gardening and I have been so fortunate to have spent much of my career learning from it and managing it too. However, come August, my time here will come to an end and I am moving to manage a garden in the South West of Ireland called Derreen; a truly magical spot heavily influenced by the Gulf Stream, given structure and design by Lord Lansdowne in the 19th Century. It is now cared for by his descendent Charlie Bigham and his family. I am so excited to be taking charge of this garden and I am looking forward to getting to know it like I know Stourhead."

Learn more about our specalist qualifications by visiting WUC's course pages.