Posted 10 May 2004Harper Adams University College and the Institute of Groundsmanship are celebrating after winning a top prize at one of the country’s most prestigious garden shows.
The Newport university college and the Shropshire Branch of the IOG were awarded a Royal Horticultural Society silver gilt medal at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show over the weekend. Silver gilt is the highest medal awarded to show gardens other than a gold, of which none were given this year. The garden was featured on the BBC’s Gardeners World Malvern Spring Gardening Show special on Friday, which was filmed from the three day event at Malvern’s Three Counties Showground, which attracted more than 94,000 visitors.
Chris Jones, of the IOG, and former member Mike Vout were the designers behind the garden, which they first began working on last October. Entitled ‘Impact’, the garden is based on science fiction; the idea that an Eco Cube – a 30-foot-high metal container carrying botanical specimens – has been transported by a mining and research space vessel to an alien world. However, after a malfunction the cube has crash landed. The garden is the scene of the crash one year later, with the Eco Cube broken and deformed and its contents growing and spreading beyond the pod. These plants were chosen for their ability to provide food, shelter, tools and useful chemical benefits arranged in a miniature landscape.
Mike, whose garden designs are often inspired by film, music and art, said: “The design is really in your face, it’s a big, bold, strong concept. The purpose of the design is to provide an entertaining, educational and visually accessible garden that displays the functional and aesthetic interest and value of plants, particularly grass species.”
Chris added: “I think people will be shocked but I think we have got a really good clear design behind it. It really brings home the fact that plants are there feeding us: there’s a purpose to plants. There are medicinal qualities, there are fuel qualities. The message behind the whole of the garden is that plants are there for certain functions.”
The plants, which included cotton, potato, maize, sugar cane and barley, were grown by Jan Haycox, Field Trials Assistant at Harper Adams, and colleague Mark Hall, Head Groundsman. The pair helped transform the design into reality, working from early morning until the small hours before the show to get everything looking shipshape. Jan said: “I’ve been growing the plants since January, and it has been very hard work, particularly in the run-up and during the show. But at the end of the day when you are awarded a prize like this it makes it all worth it. We have been inundated with visitors complimenting us on the garden and asking where they can buy the plants we have used.”
Celebrity gardener Chris Beardshaw said he was pleased the garden had appealed to the judges. “I’m thrilled. This garden was awarded a silver gilt precisely because it stuck to its original brief. It may have been abstract but it’s got a great sense of humour.”
Impact was sponsored by several local companies, including P&W Contracting, based in Wrexham and Oswestry. Tea bushes were loaned by Kew Gardens, London.
Note to Editors
For interviews, further information or photography, please contact Claire Robertson-Bennett on 01952 815371.
Last year the IOG’s garden, using plants grown and provided by Harper Adams University College, earned a gold medal. In 1995, Jan Haycox and Mark Hall also collected a bronze medal at Birmingham NEC’s garden show.
For further information on the Shropshire branch of the Institute of Groundsmanship contact Ian Morris, 07950 454367