9 June 1995



Fashion and fantasy combine with down-to-earth matters at the Royal Horticultural Societys Chelsea Flower Show. Much is packed into the small, prestigious site, and college students play many parts.

Ann Rogers reports

TWO colleges demonstrated the extremes of gardening at this years Chelsea Flower Show.

In Merrist Woods sophisticated garden, A Taste of the Orient, plants took second place to hard landscaping. The Surrey students won a silver medal for their structured, red and grey exhibit, which included a long, rectangular pool set between two pergola covered walkways leading to a pavilion that was a "temple" for a flower arrangement.

Askham Bryan students, on the other hand, went back to nature. The water feature in their garden was a tumbling fall with discrete sculptured fish leaping at its foot. The Yorkshire students had set out to recreate a "typical northern woodland landscape" with shrubs, trees and stone from North Yorks and a plant mixture which included cowslips, campions, narcissus and foxgloves and many other wild species well known by sight if not by name.

This Garden of Hope sponsored by William Morrison Supermarkets earned a silver gilt medal and from Chelsea was bound for display at the college open day before being recreated at Teesside Hospice, where it will join the Garden of Life the students had made for Chelsea 94.

Pershore College of Horticulture created the romantic Lock Keepers Garden for the Sunday Express, which was designed by Peter Hogan and Frank Hardy and received a gold award. This was visited by a turn-of-the century "lock keepers family" for photo-calls and throughout the show their narrow boat was tied up at the top of the garden.

Capel Manor College, Middx, made two gardens. They collaborated with the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies to create A flower arrangers garden which won a silver flora award. Here shape and texture of plants was as important as colour, while inside the Great Marquee (an aptly named 3.5-acre construction) they presented a tribute to the late Frances Perry.

Well known for her horticultural advisory work and especially for her gardening columns in The Observer and other publications, Mrs Perry helped found the college. The little garden created in her honour led through french doors to a replica of her study and was stocked with many of the plants she loved, including several white flowering species and alpines planted in an old sink.

A modern bath, a hand-basin and a lavatory pan were the containers used by Berkshire College students to help Thames Water promote water saving and win a silver medal. The fittings-cum-plant pots were set with easy to care for succulents which require little water.

Close by the equally conservation-conscious students of the Welsh College of Horticulture exhibited alpine plants of Snowdonia, both botanical relics from the Ice Age and the cultivated native species which can be grown alongside exotics. The college won a silver award.

The first Brinsbury College student Farmlife came across was helping out on the National Society of Floristry silver medal award winning stand which featured a willow sculpture maiden with multi-colour bouquet in her cottage garden bower.

This, it transpired, was just one of several exhibits where the Sussex students were giving a hand. They were also in evidence in the floristry marquee promoting their courses and they won a bronze with their entry in the courtyard garden competition with a design inspired by Indian paintings.

But their main work was creating the Marston Exotics silver gilt-winning exhibit in the Great Marquee. It was designed by the colleges third-year interior landscape students, who, together with Marston Exotics personnel, built the hard landscaping and planted it up with carnivorous plants.

Part of the exhibit by Marston Exotics, specialists in carnivorous plants.

Sofia Rychlik of Thames Water:Berkshire College students helped the company promote water saving.

Pictures: Jonathan Page

Among those who experienced Askham Bryans Garden of Hope were visitors from Teesside Hospice, one of whom is pictured with a Chelsea pensioner, and David Bellamy who was delivered by wheelbarrow.

A Taste of the Orient was the title of the Merrist Wood College garden.