The competition, run in association with TV Gardener David Domoney and the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community pitted teams from six colleges to design and build a show garden at the show, which runs from March 14 to 30, in Earl’s Court, London.
Each college was given a 5.5m by 4m plot to both design and build with the brief that it should be a sustainable garden to inspire city dwellers.
Chichester, north London college Capel Manor and Writtle College in Essex all won gold medals in the competition.
Chichester's garden, called 'Refreshing the Pallet', was made using 35 reclaimed wooden pallets and uses geometric shapes throughout – pyramids are featured to incorporate height and create focal viewpoints which can be seen from both seating areas due to clever use of reflection. A green roof and living walls also help to absorb noise and pollutants, while offering a habitat for wildlife.
The judges – Domoney and fellow TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin, director of skills at the Prince’s Foundation, Edith Platten, Editor of House Beautiful magazine Julia Goodwin, president of the IoH Leigh Morris and chief executive of the HTA Carol Paris - were particularly impressed with the winners’ use of bulbs in the vertical wall gardens and the insect hotels hidden in and around the garden.
The Chichester college team were up until midnight putting the final touches to the garden hours before the judging took place. The college wins a trophy and a £1,500 prize.
Domoney, who pushed for the competition to encourage youngsters into horticulture while also highlighting their skills, said: "The garden from Chichester College used their plants in a very innovative way, and their use of space on many levels was particularly interesting.
"The competition allows the personalities of the students to shine through in their designs – they are given very tight deadlines to complete their creation to a high professional standard, and it is also a great networking opportunity for them to meet likeminded peers from up and down the country."
Horticulture lecturer at Chichester Mark Howard said the students had put "blood, sweat and tears" into their garden.
"They have been on a journey that has seen them support each other to complete a project to an incredibly high standard."
The participating colleges were:
- Chichester college, Sussex – Gold award and Best at Show
- Capel Manor, London (2011 Champions) – Gold award
- Writtle College, Essex – Gold award
- Askham Bryan College, North Yorkshire – Silver-Gilt award
- Bridgewater College, Somerset – Silver-Gilt award
- Shuttleworth College, Bedfordshire – Silver award