Students to go head to head for ‘Ideal Gardeners of the Year’ title

February 2012

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

A team of Further Education horticulture students have been working with Lecturers Simon Watkins and Simon Grundy on a unique garden design for the Ideal Home Show, London’s Earl Court Arena from 16 March to 1 April 2012. The garden has been designed as part the ‘Ideal Young Gardeners of the Year’ competition, partly funded by the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for the Built Environment, to show how to build a sustainable garden and to highlight best practice in British garden design amongst student designers.

For the second year running the Prince’s Foundation with the Ideal Home Show have joined forces to create an exciting partnership to help Britain promote and build better neighborhoods and communities. The brief for the garden gave students the theme of ‘land craft techniques in an urban setting’ to work towards.

The Writtle College exhibit will be on display on the forecourt entrance to Earls Court with a plot of 5.5m x 4m. One week has been allocated for on-site build up and planting, however students at Writtle have been busy working on the project for a few months now. Alex New, from Billericay, is one of the students working on the competition garden and he said: “We were asked by our lecturers if we would like to get involved back in September last year. I jumped at the chance as I see that volunteering my time and expertise will only support me in the long run in terms of my progression and career.”

Alex went on to say about his involvement: “Personally I am more involved in the planting side of things and we have chosen plants and trees that will look at their best during Spring months. We wanted to make the design look like we had a taken a slice of an English National park and put it into the city. We selected ferns to make the garden look like it had been there for a while and chose small garden tress, including a cherry and a Cercis, in the hope that it will flower during the competition.”

“On the build side of things we have incorporated a modern twist on a dry stone wall, made with rustic flat pieces of stone, and used traditionally weaved hurdles to complement the land craft theme.”

The College has secured substantial additional funding for the garden from Globalstone - an Essex based supplier of natural paving stone – who the College has close links with as suppliers of horticultural teaching products.

In total six horticultural Colleges’ from around the country have been invited to take part in the competition. This year alongside the Writtle College entry will be gardens from: Askham Bryan College in North Yorkshire, Bridgwater College in Somerset, Chichester College in Sussex, Capel Manor in Middlesex and Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire. All six of the designed and constructed gardens will be judged by a panel including Diarmuid Gavin, Garden Designer and TV presenter, and garden expert David Domoney during the opening of the show in mid-March - awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze medals with two further prestigious titles of Best at Show and The People’s Choice to the gardens.

Over 275,000 people will view the gardens during the course of the London show, offering students fantastic exposure and a solid industry platform to build on.

At last year’s inaugural competition, HRH The Prince of Wales visited each of the gardens. Once again The Prince’s Foundation has set clear guidelines for this year’s competition based on organic and sustainable principles. The gardens should inspire city dwellers and show what can be achieved in small urban locations.

To find out further information about the Prince’s Foundation and the Ideal Home Show collaboration, please visit

Pictured - work progressing on the garden.