Young Gardeners of the Year hopefuls unveil design

March 2018

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Writtle University College’s team for the Young Gardeners of the Year competition have unveiled their design!

The annual competition is organised by celebrity gardener David Domoney and gives students invaluable experience of designing and building a show garden.

Delivered in association with The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, this year’s competition is being held at Ascot Racecourse for the first time, at the new Ascot Spring Garden Show this April. It will see six of the UK’s leading horticultural colleges create a show-stopping back garden and go head-to-head for the title - which Writtle won last year, along with a Gold Medal.

This year’s team of nine Further Education students – guided by Lecturer Ben Wincott - have designed a garden based around a ‘floating’ decking platform anchored by a full-sized tree. They are now refining the design and identifying suppliers and sponsors ahead of the garden pre-build.

James Durham, from Hertfordshire, said: “The main concept of our garden is sustainability. We hope that our garden will be an oasis in the middle of the urban desert, giving the homeowner somewhere to get away from it all – a space that brings them closer to nature and wildlife in the heart of the city.”

The entrance to the garden is lowered and filled with harvested rain water, over which are porcelain stepping stones, lined by the sculptural and dramatic plant equisetum. The aim is to create movement, reflections and a natural element in the small 5m by 4.5m space. The team have suggested that a pump system could be used taking this water to irrigate the garden.

There are then steps up from this path to a decking area made of recycled plastic raised on stilts, which gives the illusion that it is floating amongst the plants. Through this, a full-sized tree grows, providing a natural shelter and intimacy. The planting will be predominantly dense thick grasses but with perennials referencing HRH The Queen’s colours of purple and gold as the Show is delivered in association with Ascot’s Crown Estate neighbours at Windsor Great Park.

Student Grace Fairbrace, from Chelmsford, said: “This is a really exciting project which gives us the opportunity to develop our design and build skills at a high-profile event. We’re really looking forward to it!”

The teams will have five days to build and plant their gardens in the Garden Terrace on the Grandstand of Ascot Racecourse, ready for the Show’s opening day on 13 April 2018.

Each garden will then be judged by an expert panel, which includes horticultural industry leaders, home and garden magazine editors, and acclaimed garden designers and landscapers. Entrants will compete to win gold, silver gilt, silver, or bronze awards. The overall winner will receive the Best in Show trophy, and visitors will be able to vote for the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

• For more information about studying a College-level course in Horticulture at Writtle University College, please visit