Returning for its 8th year, the theme for the 2016 competition was 'Health, Happiness and Horticulture' with McLaughlin's Gold medal winning 'Nature & Nurture' garden designed to represent an urban nature reserve, taking inspiration from the hedgerows and wildflower meadows across the UK. It was built by Foxcroft Landscapes
With a keen interest in nature and plant science, which she studied at university, McLaughlin chose to combine these skills with a passion for design to create a garden with a strong wildlife and conservation message.
Her garden is split into two sections, with the outer edges of the garden featuring large beds of wildflowers and naturalistic planting to represent the busy, hectic lifestyle experienced by people living in cities, while the inner section is spacious and calm, with a pool of shallow water and relaxing seating area.
On being crowned as RHS Young Designer 2016, McLaughlin said: 'It feels absolutely amazing to have won. I'm still in shock, I didn't expect to win and it's a really nice validation for all the hard work.'
McLaughlin was presented with her award by RHS director general Sue Biggs. Fellow finalist Robin Dwair (28), who also received an RHS Gold medal for his garden 'A Home from Home', took inspiration from a couple who had recently moved from the country to the city, and wanted to maintain nostalgic elements of their former lives in their new urban setting.
Twenty-six-year-old Lilly Gomm's 'A Space to Ruminate' marked the transition between indoor and outdoor living with an open design exposed on two sides, and was awarded an RHS Silver-Gilt medal.
The RHS Young Designer competition gives young people the chance to kick start their horticultural careers by making their Show Garden debut and gaining invaluable exposure at a prestigious RHS Show.