Bethany Williams and Stuart Charles Towner, both of whom have just finished their BA (Hons) in Garden Design at the land-based Hadlow College, won the supreme award for their garden Green Seam, which tells the story of the transformation of a former colliery in East Kent into a sustainable country park.
The garden, built by RDC Landscape Design & Construction, includes a replica of a disused lift cage, a dining area with steel structures reflecting the shape of the colliery pithead, a water feature and a wall made of resin-bonded slag from the mine, representing the coal face.
The pink and green-themed planting scheme uses pioneer species which are known to grow in inhospitable and damaged landscapes, slowly transforming them back into green spaces.
Towner said: "We are absolutely bowled over and thrilled with what we have achieved as a team. Gold was amazing enough but to achieve best show garden - we are speechless."
At the close of the show the garden will be relocated to the former Betteshanger colliery and reconstructed near the Kent Mining Museum.
Since the colliery closed in 1989 the area has suffered from high unemployment and few job prospects. In 2011 Hadlow College was invited to develop a plan to boost the area, which led to the creation of the £40m Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project. The park will open next year and will be used for education, business, heritage and the community.