Writtle College wins gold at the Ideal Home Show 2014

A team of 14 horticulture students is celebrating after winning gold at the Young Gardeners of the Year competition at the Ideal Home Show.

The group, along with lecturers Simon Watkins and Ben Wincott from Writtle College in Essex, were presented with gold on Friday afternoon (14 March).

Wincott, a specialist in construction and design who has designed several show gardens at various RHS Chelsea Flower Shows said: "This really is a fantastic achievement for our horticulture students.

"We have come close in previous years but this team have really raised the bar with their attention to detail, creativity, horticultural flair and sheer determination.

Writtle College competed against Askham Bryan College in North Yorkshire, Bridgewater College, Somerset, Capel Manor College in London, Chichester College in Sussex and Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire.

The team had to design and construct a 5.5m by 4m sustainable garden to inspire city dwellers, which will be seen by a quarter of a million people during the show.

Six students at a time constructed the garden within three days inside the show in Earls Court, London.

The theme was reclaimed urban space and the team created a pub that had been taken over and adapted by nature. The leaf of the bar became a gate, a piano became a water feature, the beer barrels were filled with peat, Jack Daniels became Jack's Beanstalk, shelves became bug hotels, pint glasses were filled with compost topped with vermiculite.

Vegetables and plants carpeted the floor between floorboards, and crumbling brick walls surrounded the structure with remnants of old wallpaper and plaster peeling in the shape of East Anglia.

Stephen Darling a mature student who enrolled on the Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Horticulture course after giving up a City job to return to studying, said: "It was very emotional once we had constructed the show garden and stepped back to see our ideas a reality.

"I can honestly say that, other than getting married and having a child, this was the proudest moment of my life and my biggest achievement. The team has worked so well together and the ideas snowballed as we developed the theme."

Fellow student Abigail Hume said the enthusiasm and energy of the team had been brilliant.

"I never thought when I enrolled on this course at Writtle College that within less than two years I would be capable of making a gold-winning show garden. We've had the chance to develop our skills by working creatively to a real brief and we've all learnt from the tutors' experience."

The judging panel was made up of TV gardeners David Domoney and Diarmuid Gavin, the MD of John Woods, the editor of House Beautiful magazine as well as representatives from the Prince's Foundation and the Institute of Horticulture.



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