Derby College students set to ‘amaze’ experts with their show garden design

Horticulture students at Derby College are busy putting the finishing touches to their show garden entry for this year’s Gardeners World Live show at the Birmingham NEC in June.

The mature students are on the level three study programme at Broomfield Hall land-based college in Morley, which has been specially devised by horticulture lecturer Mike Baldwin to bring together skills and knowledge in surveying, design, plantsmanship and construction – ideal for students who want to establish a gardening business.

As part of the part-time study programme, the students are all creating several different elements of a show garden which has been designed by one of the student cohort, Rachel Pratt, and is supported by the Lilian Prime MS Centre in Derby.

The Metamorphosis Garden is designed to mark change – reflecting different themes including changes within humans, technology and in nature as well as the transition of the Derby MS Society to the Lilian Prime MS Centre, which provides support to people affected by multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.

The design is inspired by the quote “if nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies” and the fact that the butterfly is the international symbol of MS.

This was the garden design Revelation which won a silver merit at the NEC in 2019

The garden is entered through butterfly gates and follows a spiral path to the central feature. There is a seat in the shape of a chrysalis in the corner underneath a lilac pergola. Opposite is another curved seat in front of a water cascade planted up with marginal aquatics.

To reflect the neurological part of the garden, there is a living wall in the shape of human brain, made out of grasses, ferns and mosses and in the foreground some topiary. Around the garden are tiled trees that resemble human nerve cells. There are interactive QR codes around the garden that people can scan to find out the inspiration behind the elements.

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Mr Baldwin said: “Rachel has created an amazing garden design full of highly imaginative planting, structural and technological features, which I am sure will amaze both the show judges and visitors alike.

“Everyone has worked incredibly hard to create the different features of the garden and we will spend many more hours constructing this at the NEC ahead of the show.”

Peter Milner, chair of trustees at the Lilian Prime MS Centre in Derby, added: “We have worked with the horticultural team at Broomfield Hall for several years to provide the brief and inspiration for their show gardens at Gardeners World Live and have been delighted with the trophy tally that their designs have achieved.

“This time we challenged the students to produce a garden design that recognised and addressed the wide range of difficulties that people affected by multiple sclerosis might experience during their life which is a condition that varies both in its complexity and unpredictability.

“The students spent time researching MS and speak to several of our Centre users and an amazing array of design ideas were presented for us to judge.

“We all agreed that Rachel’s Metamorphosis Garden truly spelt out the change we have made at our Centre and the changes in the condition itself.

“We eagerly await the feedback from the show judges and hope that the garden inspires visitors to learn more about this condition which affects so many people’s lives in our local communities.”

Previously, the college’s horticultural team has won a range of awards at other shows as well at Gardeners’ World, including the Chelsea Flower Show and the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.

This year’s Gardeners World Show runs from June 16 -19.