After graduating in 2007 with distinction and receiving the Land Management Faculty Graduate of the Year Award, in 2008 I was awarded an RHS gold medal for my garden Forest², in the Conceptual Gardens category at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower show.
The Conceptual Gardens category was created to explore the interface between gardens and art, using gardens as pieces of conceptual art. In itself, this was not a new idea, having been pioneered by designers such as Martha Schwartz, but with roots dating back to land artists such as Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Richard Long and Hamish Fulton.
Building a show garden at Hampton Court was an exhilarating and exhausting experience. Hampton Court is a much larger showground than Chelsea Flower Show, with 25 acres to Chelsea’s 11, and exhibitors are allowed 3 weeks build-up as opposed to only 2 for Chelsea.
The landscapers had their work cut out planting 30 trees, and building walls straight enough to take huge, heavy, real glass mirrors, each measuring 2m x 2m. In the end though, the garden was finished on time and we were rewarded with an RHS Gold Medal, and, more importantly, the genuine delight of show-goers.