Landscape architecture and garden design students at Writtle University College are to be given the golden opportunity to gain invaluable experience of creating a show garden at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Award-winning designer and WUC graduate Ian Price visited the University College on 2 March to give Landscape Architecture and Garden Design degree students an insight into his show garden for RHS Chelsea and to critique their work.
Whilst there, he revealed he would be giving two to five students invaluable experience of helping with the planting of the garden.
Ian, a Writtle alumnus, is the only garden designer from Northern Ireland at the prestigious show and the first from the country in at least 30 years to have secured a spot there with his second RHS show garden.
He is using this coveted platform to create a garden that will give the visitor a taste of life debilitated by depression in a deeply personal creative project.
The 39-year-old, who won a gold medal for his first RHS show garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2014, said: “This is a very personal design at the most prestigious horticultural show in the world. It relates to a lot of people. I have suffered from poor mental health and I want to show people what this is like but also offer reassurance. It is not a depressing garden but it is about depression.
“Writtle was my foundation for everything and brought all my interests together. I fully believe in giving back to where you have come from, which is why I want to give Writtle students the chance to be involved. I would have welcomed, with open arms, the opportunity to get just a toe into the show when I was a student!”
The 6m x 6m garden, which is backed by mental health charity Inspire Wellbeing in Northern Ireland, will be entered into the fresh garden category and will be on display during the five-day show in May.
Mind Trap will feature in the centre a pool in the shape of a shifted square with a seat in the middle and four walls. The visitor will effectively start in the garden in Ian’s head on a seat which appears to float over a black, slightly bubbling pool, in which they cannot get a true reflection of themselves. Featuring straight lines, none of which are square or flat, it will be bordered by four walls that could feel secure and safe or prison-like depending on a person’s state of mind.
With everything in the garden slightly askew, the four walls give a peek of lush, bright planting beyond but inside the healthy plants will evoke a sense of withering darkness. People standing on the outside will not be able to gain a clear view of the intensity and scale of the inner turmoil. A hovering spiral of water will stress how easily it could be to slip back at any stage.
Ian, who owns his own business Ian Price Design, graduated with Steve Terry, now WUC Senior Lecturer in Design, in 1998. The garden is being sponsored by idverde, the French leader in the design, rehabilitation and maintenance of areas, which also boasts Writtle graduates.
Steve said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain first-hand experience of building and planting a show garden with an award-winning and inspiring alumnus who can show what can be achieved with a qualification from here. This experience will be invaluable for their CVs and will give them a rare insight into the phenomenal amount of hard work and creativity that goes into a show garden.”