The competition, which was launched in January across 39 of the BBC’s Local Radio stations, called on amateur gardeners and aspiring garden designers across England to submit a ‘Feel Good Front Garden’ design, taking inspiration from their local region and highlighting the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening.
The judging panel, which included RHS Chelsea Gold medal-winning designer Ann-Marie Powell, selected the following four winning designs from hundreds of entries from across the country.
BBC Radio Manchester’s Lee Burkhill – ‘Fancy a brew? Take a Pew’
His design takes inspiration from Manchester’s industrial heritage and community spirit. A cobbled garden path symbolic of Coronation Street cobbles leads to the front door. Reclaimed railway sleepers feature to create raised beds and a seating area encouraging neighbours to socialise and ‘have a brew’, making the most of their front garden space. A water feature echoes the sound of the Manchester canals.
Burkhill has worked as an IT Project Manager in Manchester for the past 12 years.
BBC Bristol’s Simon Judge – ‘Bristol Fashion’
Judge’s design takes inspiration from SS Great Britain, a revolutionary vessel of its time, built in Bristol and designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to serve the growing transatlantic passenger trade between England and the United States. The garden takes inspiration from the ship and the Victorian era in which it was built. Statement plants including espalier fruit trees and formal clipped hedging are included to reflect how the formality of planting in the Victorian era contrasts with soft perennials. He has used wooden planters to mimic the wooden cargo boxes that would have been found aboard the ship. A bubbling water feature inspired by Brunel’s iconic top hat is a key feature of the garden. Stone paving is also used to replicate the stone at Bristol’s Great Western Dockyard where the SS Great Britain was built.
Simon is a full-time trainer for the Civil Service.
BBC Kent’s Sarah Morgan – ‘Beachscape Oyster Garden’
Morgan’s design takes inspiration from Whitstable and the landscape of the Kent coast. As you leave the front door a wooden path takes you on a journey from land, across beach, to the water’s edge. Large pebbles gradually become smaller, turning into beach shingle, and the plants also change from clifftop plants to those that grow near the shoreline. At the bottom of the garden two rills and a circular pool give a nod to the sea. Fishing nets woven with kelp and seaweed provide a backdrop to the garden boundaries. Wooden sleepers resembling breakwaters offer boundary and seating. The feel-good factor comes from the textures, colours and fragrance experienced when walking through the garden.
Morgan is looking to embark on a new career in garden design.
BBC Cornwall’s Jenny Booty, Lizz Dobinson, Nicky Shellis and Tim Walker (Eden Project Learning) – ‘Tre Wostiwedh’ (Home at last)
This design is centred on Cornwall’s tin-mining history, in particular on the miners who worked all day with no sight of the beautiful landscapes and fresh air synonymous with Cornwall. The garden is also for the modern-day worker who spends most of his or her day stuck in an office and wants to come home and escape to an outside space to relax in and enjoy. At the front of the garden, a shady overhead tree canopy creates a sense of being underground; this gradually opens up to reveal a lush, brightly coloured exotic sanctuary featuring tropical planting that can be supported by the Cornish climate.
The four designers behind this garden are enrolled in Eden Project Learning courses.
Powell said: "We received hundreds of entries from across England, each applicant demonstrating a real passion for gardening and reinforcing just how creative you can be with your front garden space. Too many people are paving over their front gardens and this needs to stop. I hope these fantastic designs, which will be on display at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, inspire people to get involved in Greening Grey Britain*, to get out in their front gardens and transform their grey spaces green."
The winning designers visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show today to meet with Ann-Marie Powell and James Alexander Sinclair, who will be mentoring them through this experience, sharing their expert knowledge, and offering tips and advice as they work together with the entrants to make their visions come to life.
BBC Local Radio will be following the story of the four gardens being built, live from RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in the run-up to the show and throughout show week.
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from 5 – 10 July 2016.