The Writtle College team have attended the launch of the Young Gardeners of the Year 2016 and are looking forward to trying to retain their Best in Show crown for another year!
The competition – which saw the Writtle team win Best in Show, a gold medal and the People's Choice award in 2015 – sees six of the UK's leading horticultural colleges go head-to-head to design and build a sustainable urban garden at the Ideal Home Show.
The team – including lecturer Ben Wincott and Section Leader Simon Watkins – went to the launch at the Ideal Home Show Christmas at Olympia, London, last week <27 November>.
Ben said: "We have an excellent and enthusiastic team of students again this year who are really looking forward to the competition and hopefully keeping our crown for another year!
"The competition is a brilliant way for students to gain top-level experience - designing and building a show garden tests your skills to the max, requiring creativity, management and coolness under the pressure of a demanding schedule. This experience is invaluable for their CVs and personal development."
Simon added: "This competition is a great opportunity for Ben and his team to show off their talents; the students come face-to-face with gardening royalty and see what it's really like to create an award-winning garden."
Run in association with TV Gardener David Domoney and the Prince's Foundation for Building Community, the annual competition – now in its sixth year - celebrates young green talent.
The teams will create stunning show gardens, built in just one week, which will be seen by a quarter of a million visitors at the Ideal Home Show in March.
The competition launch day kicked off with introductions and presentations from TV gardener and event organiser David Domoney; Richard Morey, Group Events Director of Media 10, the organisers of the Ideal Home Show; Simon Sadinsky, from The Prince's Foundation; Dr Stephen Millam, from Chichester College; and Writtle's Ben Wincott.
The Prince's Foundation sets clear guidelines for the garden design based on organic and sustainable principles. This year there is a new focus on education. The Prince's Foundation has tasked the Young Gardeners with incorporating elements of an educational garden into the design. It should aim to inspire young people to reconnect with nature.
Simon Sadinsky, The Prince's Foundation's Head of Education, said: "This year, our vision is to see gardens that are not only visually appealing, but that can also act as a source of learning on a diversity of issues, such as health and nutrition, sustainability, biodiversity or art and science. We want to see spaces that encourage young people to engage with nature, so that they feel the natural world is as important as it is beautiful, and a valuable resource to be protected.
"We are inviting the Young Gardeners to demonstrate the educational value of nature to encourage the interest of future generations in the natural environment and contribute to the creation of beautiful, sustainable places."
The show gardens will be judged by an expert panel, including horticultural industry leaders, home and garden magazine editors and acclaimed garden designers. Entrants will compete to win the gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze award. The overall winner will receive the Best in Show award and be crowned the Young Gardeners of the Year 2016. Visitors to the gardens will be able to vote for their favourite to win the People's Choice Award.
David Domoney, organiser of the competition, said: "I'm immensely proud to work with HRH The Prince of Wales and the Prince's Foundation for Building Community, and to date we have given over 500 garden landscaping and design students the opportunity to build show gardens at a national event before they even leave the college gates.
"These young garden designers and landscape stars of the future are encouraged to use sustainable practices, which they will confidently pass on through generations. We look forward to seeing what these talented and inspiring young people create as they compete for the title of Young Gardeners of the Year."