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Home > Gardening News >

Octavia Hill Garden wins 'People's Choice' Award at the Chelsea Flower Show


On the penultimate day of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the RHS/BBC People’s Choice award, voted by the public, went to the colorful Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, designed by Ann-Marie Powell.

“Every Chelsea designer hopes for an award from the judges – it represents the pinnacle of horticulture. But I couldn’t be prouder that the public have chosen us for the People’s Choice Award. After all, our garden is an urban community wildlife garden, designed as a set of outdoor sitting rooms where people can be among vibrant plants, calming water, and pollinators busy among the blooms,” said Ann-Marie Powell.

Earlier in the week, this Silver-Gilt winning garden was also voted the favorite of the junior judges, earning the RHS Children’s Choice Award. The Octavia Hill Garden was designed to stimulate physical, mental, and social well-being in an urban setting.

“I’ve loved gardening and plants for so many years. I think if I can just share a bit of the joy I feel from gardening, then that will help someone else make their life a little bit better. I think Octavia Hill, one of the founders of the National Trust, would love the fact we have won the People’s Choice award as it is recognition that the public approve of the work she championed all those years ago to celebrate the joy, benefits, and importance of gardens and plants for everyone. It means so much to me and the hundreds of people who have worked on the garden to win this award and to have also received the RHS Children’s Choice Award chosen by children who are the gardeners of the future – that is just extraordinary!” said Powell.

“My husband has supported my career for decades and I am just thrilled that although he is very ill, he is still around to see me win this award. I know he will be very proud and I couldn’t have done this without him,” she added.

The garden was built by the Landscape Consultants, founded by director Jake Catling. The BALI-registered landscaping company had a proven reputation for dedication and high-quality work.

Plants for the Octavia Hill Garden were grown by Hortus Loci, a wholesale plant nursery that works with landscape architects, garden designers, and landscapers. They offer a vast range of perennials, shrubs, trees, topiary, and hedging, most of which are grown on their 17-acre site in North Hampshire. The aquatic plants were sourced from the family-run Lincolnshire Pond Plants. The plants were planted by Hampshire-based soft landscape experts, Location Landscapes.

The team of craftspeople responsible for the structures, benches, and pathways in the garden included woodcarver Kate Hanrahan, metalworking artist Richard Weaver, designer and structure manufacturer Sam Ogilvie, and pond and stream water construction specialists, the Water Artisans.

Andy Jasper, National Trust Director of Gardens and Parklands, said: “There’s never been a better time to invest in gardens that make our neighborhoods havens for people, nature, and wildlife. Our founder, Octavia Hill, showed us the value of green spaces and they’re still at the heart of so much that our charity does. We couldn’t be happier to have won this award. The public have spoken loud and clear: they love what they have seen. Tarmac, concrete, and artificial turf are our enemies – the way forward is investing in good design, inspired planting, and skilled horticulturists to make it happen.”

Alan Roper, Blue Diamond Managing Director, said: “For me, this was the Award I wanted to win the most because I feel the public voted for a true gardener’s garden. A garden that is the most relatable for people to be inspired by.”

The winner of the People’s Choice Award in the smaller garden categories was The Pulp Friction – Growing Skills Garden by first-time designers Will Dutch & Tin-Tin Azure-Marxen. The garden celebrated the work Pulp Friction does to champion the skill, determination, and passion of their members who are learning disabled and autistic, challenging perceptions of what they can achieve. Pulp Friction members were involved in the build of the garden, making this win an excellent example of what can be achieved.

In the Balcony and Container Garden category, the public voted 24-year-old Thomas Clarke’s ‘Children with Cancer UK ‘Raines Repurposed’ as their winner. This balcony garden was designed to offer respite for families affected by childhood cancer.

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This story was published on: 26/05/2024

Image attribution: RHS

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