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The 2016 RHS Flower Show Tatton Park - photo special

PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 September 2016

This 'Pulling Back Time' Show Garden was designed by female prisoners from HMP and YOI at Styal as part of their rehabilitation and horticulture qualifications

This 'Pulling Back Time' Show Garden was designed by female prisoners from HMP and YOI at Styal as part of their rehabilitation and horticulture qualifications


The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park returned to Knutsford this year, bringing with it sunshine and many local gardeners keen to show off their skills. Words by Rebekka O’Grady.

Roald Dahl's Big Friendly Giant...the centrepiece of The Big Friendly Garden created by Tatton's head gardener Simon TetlowRoald Dahl's Big Friendly Giant...the centrepiece of The Big Friendly Garden created by Tatton's head gardener Simon Tetlow

The heatwave ended as quickly as it started, but for the RHS Flower Show, it was timed perfectly. Visitors to the Tatton Park event, now in its 17th year, donned sunhats and sunglasses rather than wellies and umbrellas across the five day horticultural extravaganza in Knutsford.

New this year was the Family Day on the Saturday, coinciding with the launch of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. The Big Friendly Giant came to life in the form of a show garden, designed by the Tatton Park garden team and head gardener, Simon Tetlow.

The magical show garden, which was awarded a silver-gilt, is crafted around the place the BFG takes ten-year-old Sophie to see dreams he h as collected. ‘It’s been a fantastic year at Tatton celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl, so it was a straightforward concept to do a garden that brought one of his stories to life,’ said Simon.

‘Our rebellious streak came out. We planted nothing that flowers - it’s a garden of mosses, ferns and bark to create a moody woodland.’

17-year-old Nathan Webster in his Back to Back garden, Sitting Below the Mulberry Tree17-year-old Nathan Webster in his Back to Back garden, Sitting Below the Mulberry Tree

Celebrating her tenth year of designing, Bromborough’s Pip Probert was awarded the Best Show Garden accolade. Through the Looking Glass, which also scooped a silver-gilt, is the multi-award winning designer’s interpretation of a space for a large family who want to spend time together. The split level garden, which is chic as well as natural, mixes hard and soft materials casting a contemporary feel and is perennial heavy with pops of colour. Glass walls change the perception within the space, and provide individual spaces for the family.

Family was very much in mind for designer Shea O’Neill when she came up for the idea of her Evolution garden, ACE Kids’ Spectrum of Genuis. Shea was inspired by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian and created a colourful garden as a calm space for children with additional emotional needs - perfect for her son, Eoghan, who has autism. The 12-year-old was very much involved with the garden, as were students at Barton Primary in Northwich, where the silver medal garden will now be relocated.

‘The pupils have been hands-on,’ said Shea, who also adapted the space to make it wheelchair accessible for her daughter Cailtin, 8. ‘They grew artichokes, picked plants and selected quotes for the walls. The garden is a thank you to the school who have been so supportive to my family.’

As well as winning a silver medal for their own Back to Back garden, Heaven and Earth, Reaseheath College in Nantwich also had two students celebrating individual achievements.

First time garden designer Nathan Webster was awarded a bronze medal for his Back to Back garden, Sitting Below the Mulberry Tree. The 17-year-old from Warrington is one of the youngest designers ever to take part in this horticultural event.

Nathan said: ‘Since the age of five or six I have been interested in gardening with family,’ said Nathan, who begins the second year of his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture in September. He plans on going into a career of design and build with Hultons Landscapes of Lymm, owned and run by his father Lee.

‘Last year I did a garden with designer Pip Probert, which was amazing. But this year I said I would do my own and put my own name on it .’

The garden, which has two custom-built serpentine shaped benches and a water cascade which collects in a ground level pool, was designed for young people with life limiting illnesses. It will now be moved to Claire House Hospice, Wirral: ‘It’s aesthetically pleasing but has the traditional elements of a sensory garden.’

Fellow course member Aaron Byrne, 17, also achieved success in qualifying for the WorldSkills UK finals in November after demonstrating his skills in block paving, decking construction and plant placement in a demanding three day competition at RHS Tatton.

Aaron, a former Weaverham High School pupil, said: ‘This was a real challenge against very strong competition but it was a great opportunity to show off the technical skills and knowledge I’ve gained at Reaseheath. I’m looking forward to doing more training in preparation for the finals in Birmingham.’


Best Show Garden: Through the Looking Glass, Pip Probert

Best Evolution Garden: Plant Evolution, Michael Vinsun

Best Young Designer: Nature & Nurture, Caitlin McLaughlin

Best Back to Back Garden: A Drop of Urban Green, Hosta Consulting

Best RHS Young Landscape Contractor supported by BALI: For A Coastal Retreat, Ewan Sewell

Best RHS Young Planting Designer: For An Urban Retreat, Katie Maude

RHS People’s Choice Award: Show/Water/Evolution/Young Designer Gardens: A Space to Ruminate, Lilly Gomm

RHS People’s Choice Award: Back to Back Gardens:

The Waiting List, Alison Galer

Best Construction Award: A Coastal Retreat, Ewan Sewell

Best Blooming Border: Garden Blueprints: The Tale of Hill Top, Joanne Kennedy

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