New Malvern scholarship focus flagged

Beardshaw looks to greater plant emphasis as mentoring partnership with landscape firm Bradstone comes up for review.

Eleven gardens designed by finalists in the Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship went on show yesterday for the Malvern Spring Gardening Show, celebrating UNESCO's International Year of Chemistry.

They blended innovative planting schemes with cutting edge hard landscaping products from Aggregate Industries business Bradstone. Paving, decorative aggregates and walling range including Old Town Chelsea Cobble, Cloisters and Panache paving were featured.

The gardens appeared for the last time in their current form before a rethink of the Bradstone sponsorship after the show.

Beardshaw said the scheme had produced 39 gardens and brought skills from professions such as graphic design into the landscape sector.

"It's a shame that funding for further education is being squeezed because people get practical skills and academic aptitude by that route. Bradstone is helping plug the gap," he added.

Of a revamped scholarship partnership with Bradstone from 2012, he said: "From a personal view I'd like to see emphasis on quality horticulture and plant materials. For many landscape contractors the veneer is added at the end of a project and for some it is expendable. I want to focus on appropriateness of design and its context. These are the areas where I'll be waving the flag."

At Malvern, Bradstone is promoting Bradstone Assured, a new installer scheme designed to reward loyalty, drive business leads, ensure full and timely payment and provide professional marketing support for landscaping professionals and contractors across the UK.

Broadcast success Learning to engage

Garden designer Chris Beardshaw says gardening needs a Brian Cox-style TV presenter to make gardening science accessible.

Beardshaw, who is designing a garden for Jodrell Bank astronomy centre in Cheshire to open in September, said of TV astrophysics star Cox: "He takes a very complex subject and makes it engaging. That's what horticulture needs. He reminds me of David Bellamy or Roy Lancaster back in old days bringing in a hard level of science and making that relevant and enjoyable."

Beardshaw said of Jodrell's Big Bang garden: "It's a huge learning curve. One of the great attractions of horticulture is that with any subject it has a place to play. We're unnecessarily modest as a profession. Horticulture should say we are integral to the future health of our nation."

Beardshaw, whose BBC4 series History of the English Intervention in the Apple starts on 12 June, says he thinks Alan Titchmarsh is one of the best broadcasters on TV: "He's one of these engaging individuals who can hold his own with botanists or a class of five year olds."

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